More than 500 OpenAI employees have threatened to resign and join forces with Microsoft, following the tech giant’s appointment of former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman. This mass exodus is a clear indicator of the shifting dynamics in the artificial intelligence industry and highlights the growing influence of Microsoft in this domain.
A Defiant Stand Against OpenAI's Board
The discontent among OpenAI staff reached a boiling point with a letter, as reported by Wired and journalist Kara Swisher, addressed to OpenAI’s board. This letter, endorsed by a significant number of the company’s workforce, accuses the board of jeopardizing their mission and undermining the company’s ethos.
The employees' main contention revolves around the dismissal of Altman and Brockman, arguing that the board's actions have threatened the integrity and progress of their work. The letter firmly states that the employees are prepared to leave unless the board reinstates Altman and Brockman.
However, with the board steadfast in its decision and having already appointed a new CEO, this ultimatum seems more like a foregone conclusion. Microsoft, on the other hand, appears to be ready to welcome these employees, as indicated by the promise of positions for all OpenAI employees in the newly established subsidiary.
Microsoft's Strategic Maneuver
The recent developments suggest a strategic move by Microsoft, which has now created a special “advanced AI research team” under the leadership of Altman, with Brockman also joining the ranks.
This move is somewhat uncharacteristic for Microsoft, which generally reserves CEO titles for leaders of large divisions or acquired companies. The fact that Microsoft is treating this as a significant acquisition speaks volumes about the importance they place on AI research and development.
Adding to the drama, Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI's chief scientist and a key figure in Altman's removal, expressed regret over the recent upheaval on X (formerly Twitter). Interestingly, Sutskever's name also appears on the list of potential resignations, adding another layer of complexity to the situation.
In the midst of these turbulent changes, Emmett Shear, former Twitch CEO and co-founder, has been appointed as the interim CEO of OpenAI. This appointment follows the brief tenure of Mira Murati as interim CEO after Altman's unexpected firing.
Murati herself is among those threatening to join Microsoft, further signaling a potential major shift in the AI landscape.