OpenAI, the non-profit research company behind the popular chatbot ChatGPT, is facing a major crisis as over 700 employees have threatened to resign if the company's new management does not reinstate former CEO and co-founder Sam Altman.
The employees, who accuse the new management of endangering their work and undermining their mission, have expressed their intention to join Altman at Microsoft, where he was recently appointed head of a new "Advanced AI Research Team." The resignations, if they materialize, would deal a significant blow to OpenAI, which has been at the forefront of AI research and development.
The company's flagship product, ChatGPT, has gained widespread popularity for its ability to generate human-quality text, and it is considered one of the most advanced AI chatbots in existence.
Employees gave their support to Sam Altman
The current turmoil at OpenAI stems from the sudden dismissal of Altman as CEO in November 2023.
The company's board of directors cited concerns over Altman's leadership style and his handling of certain sensitive issues. However, this decision was met with immediate backlash from employees, who rallied behind Altman and accused the board of making a rash decision that would jeopardize the company's future.
The employees' threat to resign has put the new management of OpenAI in a difficult position. On the one hand, they cannot afford to lose such a large number of talented employees, especially in a field as competitive as AI research.
On the other hand, reinstating Altman could be seen as a sign of weakness and a reversal of the board's decision.
Is this a strategic move by Microsoft to weaken the competition?
Microsoft's poaching of OpenAI's top talent has further complicated the situation.
The company's formation of a new AI research team led by Altman suggests a strategic move to acquire OpenAI's expertise and talent, potentially weakening OpenAI's competitive edge. The next few weeks will be crucial for OpenAI as it navigates this internal crisis and faces the prospect of losing a significant portion of its workforce.
The company's ability to retain its employees and maintain its position as a leader in AI research will depend on its ability to address the concerns raised by its employees and find a way to move forward with a new leadership team.