The upheaval at OpenAI continues as over 95 percent of its workforce, numbering 747 out of 770 employees, has issued a collective ultimatum, vowing to leave and join Microsoft if the board refuses to step down and reinstate co-founder Sam Altman.
Despite concerted efforts by both employees and supporting investors, the board remains unwavering in its stance.
Employee threats and venture capital support
Venture capitalists, aligning with the aggrieved staff, are contemplating legal actions to compel the board to reverse Altman’s ouster. While details about the potential legal measures remain undisclosed, sources suggest that legal action may be imminent, adding a new layer of complexity to the ongoing crisis.
Board’s unyielding stance
The board, comprising Adam D’Angelo, Tasha McCauley and Helen Toner, remains resolute in the face of mounting pressure. Insider reports reveal the board’s preparedness to test the determination of employees, underscoring the severity of the standoff between the company’s leadership and its workforce. The staff’s letter accuses the directors of undermining the company’s mission and alleges a mishandling of Altman’s dismissal, further escalating tensions.
The last remaining co-founder on the board, Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s chief scientist, signed the letter from staff after public apologies on social media for his role in Altman’s firing. Despite increasing pressure, Sutskever did not indicate an intention to resign from the board. The situation spotlights internal rifts within the leadership and the complexity of managing the fallout from Altman’s departure.
Silicon Valley’s leading AI startup faces unprecedented crisis
Altman’s abrupt removal has thrust OpenAI, Silicon Valley’s preeminent artificial intelligence startup, into a crisis with no clear resolution.
As a pioneering force in the AI domain, Altman’s absence leaves a significant void. Rival AI companies, including Anthropic and Cohere, are witnessing increased interest from OpenAI customers seeking alternative solutions amid the ongoing turmoil. External entities are also attempting to capitalize on the uncertainty by recruiting talent from OpenAI, further complicating the startup’s recovery prospects.
The chaos has prompted influential figures like Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff to actively seek OpenAI researchers, offering to match their salaries. Mustafa Suleyman, founder of AI startup Inflection, expressed sympathy for the situation at OpenAI while actively recruiting new talent. The ripple effects extend beyond the industry, with OpenAI’s crisis becoming a focal point for discussions on the challenges of underwriting companies in the rapidly evolving AI landscape.
In this unprecedented scenario, the fate of OpenAI hangs in the balance, employees are discontent and awaiting resolution and clarity in relation to legal considerations, and external competitive pressures.