OpenAI staff threaten exodus, jeopardizing company’s future

OpenAI staff threaten exodus, jeopardizing company’s future

OpenAI’s future is in jeopardy after more than 700 of its 770 employees signed a letter Monday saying they could leave the company for Microsoft if former CEO Sam Altman is not reinstated. the leading artificial intelligence start-up. .

One of the board members who expelled Mr. Altman on Friday backtracked on Monday and signed the letter, which was on an internal discussion forum, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Board member Ilya Sutskever posted on social media platformformerly known as Twitter, that “I deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions.”

The ouster of Mr. Altman by the four board members — who said he had not been upfront about it, but did not say how — sparked a frenzied weekend of corporate maneuvers during which Mr. Altman ended up joining Microsoft to start a new AI Project. Microsoft, which invested $13 billion in OpenAI, essentially owns a 49% stake in the company.

The staff letter demanding Mr. Altman’s reinstatement said Microsoft had assured OpenAI employees that there were positions for everyone if they chose to join its new AI subsidiary.

OpenAI and Microsoft declined to comment. Emmett Shear, whom OpenAI’s board named interim CEO late Sunday, told a reporter Monday he couldn’t comment because he was on a call.

This upheaval casts doubt on the future of one of the fastest growing companies in Silicon Valley history. At a time when the industry was plagued by mass layoffs, OpenAI’s technology fueled the creation of hundreds of startups. Today, many of these companies are worried about their prospects.

“It’s the debacle of the decade,” said Gaurav Oberoi, founder of Lexion, a startup that leverages OpenAI to help companies streamline legal, business and vendor contracts. “It’s a lesson in how to destroy a huge amount of value and their own reputation overnight.”

Early Monday, in a 530-word article on X, Mr. Shear said he planned to hire an independent investigator to look into the details before and after Mr. Altman’s firing. He also pledged to gather feedback from employees, partners and investors that he said would inform how he rebuilds the company’s leadership team.

“I think it may take more than a month to make real progress,” said Mr. Shear, former chief executive of the live-streaming site Twitch. Later in the day, Mr. Shear spoke with Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive.

In an appearance Monday on Bloomberg TV, Mr. Nadella said his message to Mr. Shear was clear. “Hey, look, we remain very, very committed to OpenAI and its mission and its roadmap, and they can count on us,” Mr. Nadella said.

Among these rapid events, the change of heart expressed by Mr. Sutskever was one of the most surprising. “I never intended to harm OpenAI,” Mr. Sutskever, co-founder of OpenAI with Mr. Altman and its chief scientist, said in his article on that we built together and I will do whatever I want.” “can reunite the company.” Mr. Altman reposted the message and added three red hearts.

Mr. Sutskever did not respond to a request for comment.

In addition to Mr. Altman, several key OpenAI employees have already joined Microsoft’s new AI subsidiary. This includes Greg Brockman, the president of OpenAI who left the start-up in solidarity after Mr. Altman replaced you. Early Monday morning in a message to

Mr. Pachocki led the development of GPT-4, the technology behind OpenAI’s popular chatbot, ChatGPT. He has long worked closely with Mr. Brockman, an engineer who helped found OpenAI in 2015 alongside Mr. Altman and has been deeply involved in nearly every aspect of the company’s operations since its inception .

OpenAI staff were in revolt in the hours after the board announced Mr. Altman’s ouster, two OpenAI employees told the New York Times. Employees privately shared morbid jokes and memes about the power struggles of the HBO show “Succession,” the two men said. Many used private group chats and video calls to plan their next steps and to commiserate with each other.

And Mr. Shear’s challenge to earn their loyalty as chief executive quickly became apparent. Most OpenAI employees skipped an all-hands video call Sunday evening intended to introduce them to Mr. Shear, and some reacted to a message announcing the meeting with vulgar emojis, according to a person familiar with the matter.

OpenAI still maintains a partnership with Microsoft. Mr. Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, said in a message to X on Monday that Microsoft will continue to work with the startup to sell a wide range of products and services based on GPT-4 and other OpenAI technologies.

But if most of OpenAI’s employees go to Microsoft, the startup will struggle to build the next generation of AI technologies — systems that will be more powerful than ChatGPT. Other companies, including Google and Meta, are working on such technologies.

Lexion’s Oberoi said his company uses OpenAI’s Large Language Models, or LLMs, to develop new features because its AI technologies are more advanced than any others on the market. But following this weekend’s unrest, he said Lexion would develop parallel features with Anthropic, an OpenAI rival, so the company “can change quickly if necessary.”

“This highlights a big ongoing discussion: will you build your technology, platforms and key features on third-party LLMs? » said Mr. Oberoi. “As a manufacturer on top of their products, I fear there will be other sudden decisions that could impact our models. Plus, it’s very expensive.

Late Monday morning, Mr. Altman made an effort to woo OpenAI’s customers. In a message to X, he said he and Mr Nadella’s top priority was to ensure OpenAI continued to thrive. “We are committed to fully ensuring business continuity for our partners and customers,” he wrote.

“We’re all going to work together in some way, and I’m so excited,” he wrote in another message to X. “One team, one mission.”

Karen Weiss reports contributed.

Avatar photo

David B.Otero

Related Posts

Read also x