Almost all OpenAI staff have now signed a letter threatening to leave and join a new company led by ousted CEO Sam Altman. Some 738 of the approximately 770 employees, or around 95 percent of the company, are now listed on the stock exchange. letter published early this morning.
The letter calls for the reinstatement of Altman and fellow OpenAI co-founder and close associate Greg Brockman, the resignation of the board of directors that fired Altman and removed Brockman as chairman, and the appointment new members of the board of directors.
Altman was fired from his position as CEO of OpenAI Friday. Brockman was removed as chairman and left the company hours later to protest Altman’s removal. The letter released today states that the board did not provide written evidence to support its decision to remove them from their positions.
In a dramatic weekend that captivated the tech industry, Altman appeared poised to get his job back and visited the company’s headquarters to discuss the possibility. After negotiations failed, Microsoft announced that Altman and Brockman would join a new subsidiary to work on AI. OpenAI replaced interim CEO Mira Murati, formerly its CTO, with a new interim, Emmett Shear, former leader of Amazon’s Twitch streaming service.
When first published this morning, the OpenAI staff letter was signed by just under 500 people, including Ilya Sutskever, the company’s chief scientist and board member who told Altman he was fired Friday. “More people are signing when they wake up,” a company employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said today after the letter was published. The employee says there has been no further explanation for Altman’s ouster and little communication from the board.
Some employees employed on OpenAI-related work visas, which make it difficult to change companies, posted on X today to say they signed the letter anyway. “I also have a research visa which I will lose if I resign,” wrote Boris Power, the company’s head of applied research. “These are just details: let’s move on with the mission! 🚀”
The edge reported today that Altman was still willing to return to OpenAI if the current directors stepped down.