This might be the messiest breakup in tech history.
The 700 Club
A vast majority of OpenAI's 770 staffers are pressuring the company's board of directors to reinstate CEO Sam Altman — and if they don't, they're threatening to walk.
In response to the weekend's barrage of OpenAI news — which began when the company's board of directors dropped a surprise Friday afternoon announcement that it was firing Altman, included the company inviting him back to discuss his return and ultimately not rehiring him, and ended with Microsoft hiring the ex-CEO to lead an AI research team there, though even that's sounding a little shaky now — 700 employees at the firm penned and signed an open letter calling to the company's board with a simple, bold directive: resign and reinstate Altman, or we'll all quit.
At press time, the letter has reportedly been signed by a whopping 700 of the company's 770 employees — including CTO Mira Murati, who the board briefly named interim CEO only to be replaced just a few days later, and Altman's fellow cofounder Ilya Sutskever, who initially appeared to be one of the forces behind his ouster.
"I deeply regret my participation in the board's actions," Sutskever tweeted early this morning. "I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we've built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company."
Who Hurt You
Much like the board's initial announcement about Altman's firing, the employee letter doesn't go into specifics about what exactly the ousted CEO did to get the can. It does, however, accuse the board of not being forthright with OpenAI staff about their shocking decision — an allegation that echoes the board's own against Altman when claiming that he hadn't told the board the entire truth, either.
"Despite many requests for specific facts for your allegations, you have never provided any written evidence," the employee letter charges claims of the company's board before accusing the governing body of being incapable of running OpenAI and "negotiating in bad faith."
"We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgement and care for our mission and employees," the letter continues before demanding that "all current board members resign," appoint "two new lead independent directors," and reinstates Altman and fellow cofounder and former board president Greg Brockman, who quit in solidarity following the CEO's sacking.
If the board doesn't meet the employees' demands, per the letter, they're reserving the right to resign themselves and "join the newly announced Microsoft subsidiary" that will be run by Altman and Brockman.
Amid the C-suite tumult at OpenAI, the people who do the work of building out its AI are clearly taking their power back — and if their demands aren't met, there may not be any OpenAI left to fight over.
More on the firm in question: OpenAI's New CEO Posted Edgelord Tweets About Rape and Nazis
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