Almost whole OpenAI staff have now signed a letter threatening to leave and join a new venture led by ousted CEO, Sam Altman. About 738 out of 770 employees, about 95 percent of the company, are now listed in the letter released early this morning.
The letter calls for Altman and fellow OpenAI cofounder and close associate Greg Brockman to be reinstated, for the board that fired Altman and removed Brockman from his position as chair to resign, and for new board member to be appointed.
Altman was fired from his position as CEO of OpenAI on Friday. Brockman was removed from his position as chair and quit the company hours later in protest of Altman’s dismissal. The letter released today said the board failed to provide written evidence to justify its decision to remove them from their positions.
During a dramatic weekend that captivated the tech industry, Altman appeared to be on the verge of regaining his position and visited the company’s headquarters to discuss the possibility. After negotiations broke down, Microsoft announced that Altman and Brockman would join a new subsidiary to work on AI. OpenAI replaced interim CEO Mira Murati, its former CTO, with a new interim, Emmett Shear, former leader of Amazon’s Twitch streaming service.
When first released this morning the letter from OpenAI staff was signed by just under 500 people including, remarkably, Ilya Sutskever, the company’s chief scientist and the board member who told Altman that he was fired on Friday. “Many more signed in their wake,” a company employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, said today after the letter was released. The employee said there was no further explanation for Altman’s firing, and little communication from the board.
Some staff working on work visas tied to OpenAI making it difficult to transfer to X companies now to say they signed the letter. “I am also on a research visa that I will lose if I resign,” wrote Boris Power, the company’s head of applied research. “These are the details—continue the mission! 🚀”
The Verge reported today that Altman is still open to returning to OpenAI if the current directors step down.