Sam Altman not returning to OpenAI! Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear named CEO

  • In a big setback to efforts being made by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, it has been revealed that Sam Altman will not be returning to OpenAI and his successor has been named.

| Updated on: Nov 20 2023, 12:41 IST
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The sticking point in the entire discussion was that Sam Altman was insisting the OpenAI board resign. (REUTERS)

In a big setback to efforts being made by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, it has been revealed that Sam Altman will not be returning to OpenAI. This was revealed by The Information's Jessica Lessin in an X post. Notably, talks were ongoing between the OpenAI board, Altman, Microsoft and the investors on getting the former CEO back. It was also revealed that the interim CEO, Mira Murati was making efforts to get Altman back to OpenAI.

The job of OpenAI CEO has gone to Emmett Shear, the report cited co-founder and board director Ilya Sutskever. Shear is the co-founder of video streaming site Twitch. Financial Times has suggested that he will be the interim CEO. That also indicates that the reign of Murati barely lasted a few days, if that.

This comes barely hours after Sam Altman had taken to X and posted this message, “First and last time i ever wear one of these”. There seems to be a strong suggestion there that he was not intending to go back to OpenAI.

The sticking point in the entire discussion was that Altman was insisting the OpenAI board resign and a new one be appointed. He had seemingly given a 5PM deadline yesterday and one today for that to happen and he would return thereafter. 

As things stand, at OpenAI, the board looks to be standing alone with investors, including Microsoft, aligning with Altman. Not just that, most employees have come out into the public in support of the sacked CEO.

Notably, Altman was sacked by the OpenAI board without much ceremony on a video call. This came as a shock, not just to the public, for whom Altman was the face of AI, but also for investors like Microsoft. There were no consultations done by the board before taking this step. In fact, the board meeting was not even attended by then President Greg Brockman. He resigned thereafter in protest.

 Satya Nadella was reportedly very keen for the return of Altman and apart from that, he was also looking at the possibility of a Microsoft representative to come on the OpenAI board, even if it was without any voting rights.

What the investors would be really worried about is the state of the health of OpenAI without Altman. Will it be able to stay on this path of extreme success or not? Also, they would be worried about the immediate and long term impact on the shares of OpenAI. And, what will Altman do? Will he create an OpenAI rival? Also, employees have threatened mass resignations if Altman does not come back. How will that pan out? And interim CEO Murati has already been replaced. She has been put in an extremely unenviable position. Will she resign too or go back to her old job as OpenAI CTO?

The uncertainty will cause immense damage across all these spheres, no matter what the eventual outcome is.

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First Published Date: 20 Nov, 11:01 IST