Staff at OpenAI have called on the artificial intelligence company’s board of directors to resign following the shock firing of former boss Sam Altman.
In their letter, they questioned the competency of the board of directors, and accused the board of underestimating the company’s performance.
They also demanded that Altman be reinstated.
But Altman now has a job at Microsoft and apparently wants to stay there. He and Microsoft boss Satya Nadella view OpenAI’s success as critical, he added.
“My main goal and priority remains ensuring OpenAI continues to grow,” he tweeted.
“We are committed to providing complete operational continuity to our partners and customers. The OpenAI/Microsoft partnership makes this very possible.”
The firing of a man who was one of the leading figures in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) on Friday shocked the technology world.
Hundreds of parties who signed the letter, including senior staff, said they might resign if their demands were not met.
They also stated that Microsoft, the largest investor in OpenAI, had assured them that jobs were available for all OpenAI staff if they wanted to join the company.
In an interview with CNBC, Nadella said he was open to working with OpenAI or working with OpenAI employees coming to Microsoft.
“At this point… it’s very, very clear that something has to change in the governance [at OpenAI],” he added, saying the companies would have a dialogue on this.
Evan Morikawa, engagement manager at OpenAI, posted on X — formerly Twitter — that 743 of the company’s 770 workers had put their names to the letter.
One of the key people who signed the letter was OpenAI’s chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever – although he was a member of the board that has now come under fire.
Writing in X, he said that he had made a mistake.
“I now deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we have built together and I will do everything I can to put the company back together,” he wrote.
In a fast-moving and chaotic series of events over the weekend, it looked like Altman might get his job back, but it was later announced that he was joining Microsoft, which has invested billions of dollars in OpenAI in exchange for a 49% stake.
Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella wrote in X that Altman would lead a “new advanced AI research team.”
Responding to a post confirming his new job, but before the letter was published, Mr Altman wrote “the mission continues”.
He later added: “We’re all going to work together one way or another, and I’m very excited. one team, one mission.”
Meanwhile, former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear will become OpenAI’s new interim boss.
Writing in X, he called the job “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
But he added the way Altman was fired was “handled very poorly” and “seriously damaged our trust.”
Altman, 38, helped launch the company – best known for creating the popular ChatGPT bot – and has become one of the most influential figures in the fast-growing field of generative artificial intelligence (AI).
The high-profile firing shocked industry watchers, and angered many at the company he led – culminating in them demanding the board member resign.
‘Circus of shame’
Dan Ives of investment firm Wedbush Securities said Microsoft was finally strengthened – but the incident had a negative impact on OpenAI.
They “were at the kids’ poker tables and thought they were winning until Nadella and Microsoft took over everything in the World Series of Poker move for the ages,” he wrote.
“Last weekend’s embarrassing circus performance at OpenAI was finally taken over by the adults in the room.”