OpenAI has appointed ex-Twitch boss Emmett Shear to lead the startup, replacing Sam Altman who will join Microsoft to lead a new cutting-edge AI research team, the software giant’s CEO said late Sunday.
“We look forward to getting to know and working with Emmett Shear and OAI’s new leadership team,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote on social media platform OpenAI.
Shear was named interim CEO, a person briefed on the appointment told Reuters.
The decision not to reinstate Altman as CEO of the company behind ChatGPT has thrown into disarray efforts by investors and company employees to steady the ship by bringing him back after the board fired him on Friday , a surprising move that turned the technology world upside down.
They fear his abrupt resignation could lead to a mass exodus of talent and impact an upcoming $86 billion stock sale.
Nadella said Altman would join Microsoft to “lead a new cutting-edge AI research team.”
We remain committed to our partnership with OpenAI and are confident in our product roadmap, our ability to continue to innovate with everything we announced at Microsoft Ignite, and in continuing to support our customers and partners. We look forward to getting to know Emmett…
— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) November 20, 2023
Reuters previously reported that Altman discussed a possible return to OpenAI and changed the company’s governance structure even as he considered launching a new AI venture.
Altman and Greg Brockman, who stepped down from the OpenAI board as chairs as part of the management shuffle, joined executives at the company’s headquarters on Sunday after then-interim CEO Mira Murati told staff she had invited Altman , The Information reported earlier on Sunday.
Nadella said Brockman would also join the software company.
Altman posted an image of himself on X on Sunday wearing an OpenAI guest badge with the caption: “the first and last time I’ll ever wear one.” In a separate post on X, he reshared Nadella’s post with the comment “the mission continues.”
Shear was a co-founder of Twitch and had stepped down from Amazon.com’s live video streaming platform earlier this year.
Brockman quit on Friday due to Altman’s dismissal. Their departure caught many employees off guard who discovered the abrupt change in management through an internal message and the company’s public blog.
Some researchers, including Szymon Sidor, also left the company after the CEO change, two people familiar with the matter said. Sidor confirmed his departure.
The Information first reported Shear’s appointment as interim CEO.
Shortly after the internal announcement of Shear’s appointment, distraught employees poured out of OpenAI headquarters in San Francisco, The Information reported.
Dozens of employees announced internally on Sunday evening that they were leaving the company, the company said, citing a person with knowledge of the situation.
OpenAI started the generative AI craze a year ago by releasing ChatGPT. The chatbot became one of the fastest growing software applications in the world.