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More than 700 OpenAI Employees Consider Resigning Following CEO Sam Altman’s Firing


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 03: OpenAI Co-Founder & CEO Sam Altman speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2019 at Moscone Convention Center on October 03, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)
OpenAI Co-Founder & CEO Sam Altman speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2019 at Moscone Convention Center on October 03, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

OAN’s Elizabeth Volberding
6:00 PM – Monday, November 20, 2023

After firing CEO Sam Altman last week, the board of directors of the artificial intelligence company OpenAI claims to have received threats from 738 employees threatening to resign from their positions.

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On Monday, around 738 out of 770 OpenAI staffers, or about 95%, reportedly threatened to quit in a letter after the company’s board of directors terminated Altman on Friday.

The angry employees have requested for the resignation of the company’s board and threatened to quit due to “mishandling” Sam Altman’s termination, not providing explainable evidence for claims that Altman had not been honest with the board, and “negotiating in bad faith” with the firm’s executive leadership.

“Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI,” the employees wrote in the letter. “We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgment and care for our mission and employees.”

Altman has served as chief executive officer of OpenAI from 2019 to 2023. Although, he has already managed to snag a new position as the head of an AI research unit at Microsoft on Sunday.

The employees also threatened the company itself, stating that they would “imminently” follow Altman to his new job at Microsoft unless the board quits and reinstates Altman and Greg Brockman, who is the former OpenAI president that was also terminated on Friday.

“Microsoft has assured us that there are positions for all OpenAI employees at this new subsidiary should we choose to join,” the workers stated in the letter.

“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,” the letter added. “Your conduct has made it clear you did not have the competence to oversee OpenAI.”

As news of the letter was released, Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s co-founder, chief scientist, and board member who has been reported as having played a role in Altman’s removal, made a statement on X (Twitter) where he publicly apologized and acknowledged Altman’s leadership in the company.

“I deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions,” Sutskever said. “I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we’ve built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company.”

Allegedly, there were tensions between Altman and the company’s board regarding the “pace and scope” of AI development.

As of Sunday, there have reportedly been “dozens” of OpenAI employees who have already resigned from their positions at the company in order to protest Altman’s termination.

With this drastic change, there are questions about whether OpenAI can continue to lead the way in creating AI tools like ChatGPT, which has amassed over 100 million active weekly users since its launch in late 2018.

OpenAI had initially prepared a tender offer that would have raised the company’s valuation to well over $80 billion before Altman was fired. However, now those plans are being re-examined.

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