Hundreds of OpenAI employees have threatened to resign and follow ousted leader Sam Altman to Microsoft Corp. unless the current board resigns, following its abrupt firing of the chief executive officer on Friday.
A letter signed by about 500 of the artificial intelligence startup’s roughly 770 employees states that the signatories are “unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgment and care for our mission and employees.”
The document goes on to say that, absent a new board and the reinstatement of Altman and fellow OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman, workers may choose to take up positions at Microsoft, which just announced it’s welcoming the two executives to lead a new in-house AI research team.
“Microsoft has assured us that there are positions for all OpenAI employees at this new subsidiary should we choose to join.”
Wired previously reported on the employee letter.
The document is endorsed by OpenAI Chief Technology Officer (and briefly interim CEO) Mira Murati and Ilya Sutskever, a board member who has been seen as instrumental in the board’s actions. It follows a spate of posts on X, formerly Twitter, by OpenAI staffers with the words “OpenAI is nothing without its people,” which seemed to signal solidarity with the ousted Altman and Brockman.
Sutskever posted on the social network that he regrets his participation in the board’s actions — he had been the board member to communicate to Altman on Friday that he’d been ousted, according to Brockman.
The firing of Altman came as a surprise to OpenAI’s workers, the letter said, as well as to Microsoft, the startup’s biggest shareholder and closest technology partner. A coalition of powerful investors, company leaders and the world’s largest software company tried to get Altman reinstated, to no avail.
Late Sunday, the company’s four-person board instead appointed Emmett Shear, co-founder and former CEO of game-streaming website Twitch.