The drama at OpenAI simply refuses to die down.
As many of 490 of OpenAI’s estimated 700 employees have signed an open letter calling the board incompetent and asking it to resign. Incredibly, the signatories include Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s Chief Scientist who’d led the coup which led to the ouster of CEO Sam Altman and President Greg Brockman. OpenAI employees had earlier shared “OpenAI is nothing without its employees” in unison on X.
Here’s the full text of the letter:
To the Board of Directors at OpenAI,
OpenAI is the world’s leading AI company. We, the employees of OpenAI, have developed the best models and pushed the field to new frontiers. Our work on AI safety and governance shapes global norms. The products we built are used by millions of people around the world. Until now, the company we work for and cherish has never been in a stronger position.
The process through which you terminated Sam Altman and removed Greg Brockman from the board has jeopardized all of this work and undermined our mission and company. Your conduct has made it clear you did not have the competence to oversee OpenAI.
When we all unexpectedly learned of your decision, the leadership team of OpenAI acted swiftly to stabilize the company. They carefully listened to your concerns and tried to cooperate with you on all grounds. Despite many requests for specific facts for your allegations, you have never provided any written evidence. They also increasingly realized you were not capable of carrying out your duties, and were negotiating in bad faith.
The leadership team suggested that the most stabilizing path forward – the one that would best serve our mission, company, stakeholders, employees and the public – would be for you to resign and put in place a qualified board that could lead the company forward in stability.
Leadership worked with you around the clock to find a mutually agreeable outcome. Yet within two days of your initial decision, you again replaced interim CEO Mira Murati against the best interests of the company. You also informed the leadership team that allowing the company to be destroyed “would be consistent with the mission.”
Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI. We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgement and care for our mission and employees. We, the undersigned, may choose to resign from OpenAI and join the newly announced Microsoft subsidiary run by Sam Altman and Greg Brockman. Microsoft has assured us that there are positions for all OpenAI employees at this new subsidiary should we choose to join. We will take this step imminently, unless all current board members resign, and the board appoints two new lead independent directors, such as Bret Taylor and Will Hurd, and reinstates Sam Altman and Greg Brockman.
Meanwhile, OpenAI Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever shared a grovelling apology on X for leading the coup that led to the ouster of Sam Altman and Greg Brockman. “I deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we’ve built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company,” he posted. It appears that the apology had been accepted, because both Altman and Brockman reshared the post with heart emojis.
This letter indicates that OpenAI might be on the verge of imploding with 70% of its staff saying they had offers from Microsoft, and threatening to quit. Hours earlier, Sam Altman and Greg Brockman had said they were joining Microsoft. But it now appears that they might be followed by 490 employees and even Ilya Sutskever, who had appeared to be in the other camp all this while. All this will put tremendous pressure on the board — with nearly all its employees and senior leadership gone, OpenAI will be but a shell of its former self, and even find it hard to continue as a going concern. The latest development will also be slightly worrying for Microsoft, which had invested $10 billion into OpenAI, and is seeing it implode before its eyes. But if it can manage to snag all OpenAI’s talent, it might be a worthwhile result for the company anyway.