Majority of OpenAI employees threaten to quit and join Microsoft unless board resigns | Business News

More than 500 employees of revolutionary artificial intelligence (AI) company OpenAI have said they will leave if the ousted CEO Sam Altman is not reinstated and the board does not resign.

A letter from 505 of the approximately 700 OpenAI employees threatened to quit and jump ship to Microsoft, having received assurances that there are jobs for them at the tech giant.

Key members of management are signatories of the letter, including the former interim CEO Mira Murati, who was replaced this morning, and the chief scientist Ilya Sutskever.

Mr Altman was fired by the not-for-profit company’s board on Friday, declaring he “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board”.

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But the letter from employees expressed dissatisfaction with the board’s decision-making.

“Despite many requests for specific facts for your allegations, you have never provided any evidence,” it read.

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“The process through which you terminated Sam Altman and removed Greg Brockman from the board has jeopardized all of this work and undermined our mission and company.

“Your conduct has made it clear you did not have the competence to oversee OpenAI.”

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CEO of OpenAI Sam Altman speaks to Sky News

Criticism was also levelled at the board for how it handled the transition from Mr Altman’s tenure and accused the board of “negotiating in bad faith”.

“When we all unexpectedly learned of your decision, the leadership team of OpenAI acted swiftly to stabilise the company. They carefully listened to your concerns and tried to cooperate with you on all grounds.

“They also increasingly realised you were not capable of carrying out your duties.”

The letter also suggests there had been discussion over the weekend with the interim CEO at the time, Ms Murati, to replace the board.

Instead, it pointed out, Ms Murati was replaced by the board two days after she was appointed.

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Employees are also seeking the appointment of two independent board members in addition to the board resignations and reinstatement of Mr Altman and Mr Brockman.

On Monday morning, Mr Altman and company president Greg Brockman were hired by Microsoft to work on a new advanced AI research project.

Shares in Microsoft are at a record high following the news, up 2.1% in late deals.

OpenAI is the company behind the game-changing generative AI chatbot used by millions, ChatGPT.

Mr Altman later said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that his and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s “top priority remains to ensure OpenAI continues to thrive.”

“We are committed to fully providing continuity of operations to our partners and customers the OpenAI/Microsoft partnership makes this very doable”, he added.

OpenAI was yet to comment on the letter by staff.

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