Majority of OpenAI Employees Threaten to Leave with Sam Altman

Almost the entire staff of OpenAI has signed a letter indicating their intention to depart and join a new venture under the leadership of the former CEO, Sam Altman. Approximately 95 percent of the company, comprising some 738 out of its around 770 employees, are signatories of the letter that was released early this morning.

The letter demands the reinstatement of Altman and his close associate Greg Brockman, who were both removed from their positions by the board, as well as the resignation of the current board members and the appointment of new ones.

Altman was terminated as CEO of OpenAI on Friday, which led to Brockman’s resignation from his position as chair in protest. The letter released today asserts that the board failed to provide written evidence justifying their decisions to remove Altman and Brockman.

Following a dramatic weekend, Altman appeared to be on the verge of regaining his position and even visited the company’s headquarters for discussions. Subsequently, Microsoft announced that Altman and Brockman would be joining a new subsidiary to focus on AI. Mira Murati, the former CTO of OpenAI, was replaced by Emmett Shear, the former leader of Amazon’s Twitch streaming service, as the new interim CEO.

On Monday, Vinod Khosla, a major backer of OpenAI, called for Shear to resign and questioned the legality of the board’s action. Meanwhile, Joshua Kushner of Thrive Capital, another OpenAI investor, expressed support for the campaign to reinstate Altman, emphasizing that “Founders deserve to run their own businesses,” in a post on X.

The initial release of the letter from OpenAI staff this morning had nearly 500 signatories, including Ilya Sutskever, the company’s chief scientist and a board member who was involved in Altman’s termination. An employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, revealed that more staff were signing the letter as they became aware of it. The employee also mentioned the lack of further explanation for Altman’s removal and minimal communication from the board.

Even staff members on work visas tied to OpenAI, making transitioning to new companies challenging, declared their support by signing the letter. Boris Power, the company’s head of applied research, confirmed this by stating, “I’m on a research visa too that I will lose if I resign. These are details—onwards with the mission! 🚀”

The Verge reported today that Altman would consider returning to OpenAI if the current directors stepped aside.

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