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OpenAI Tells Dissatisfied Employees: ‘We Have a Plan’


OpenAI is reportedly in “intense discussions” to calm staff following the ouster of its CEO.

The artificial intelligence (AI) firm announced last week that it had parted ways with Sam Altman over his apparent lack of transparency in communications with the board.

The move led more than 500 of the company’s 770 workers to sign an open letter threatening to quit if the board did not resign and reinstate Altman. In response, OpenAI Vice President of Global Affairs Anna Makanju said the company is working to unify employees, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday (Nov. 21).

“We are continuing to go over mutually acceptable options and are scheduled to speak again tomorrow morning when everyone’s had a little more sleep,” Makanju wrote in a memo seen by Bloomberg.

“These intense discussions can drag out, and I know it can feel impossible to be patient,” she said, adding that “we have a plan that we are working towards.”

Altman was removed as head of the company last Friday (Nov. 17) after the board said a review found the CEO had not been “consistently candid in his communications with the board.”

Supporters of Altman — among them Microsoft, OpenAI’s biggest investor — spent the weekend campaigning for his return.

When that didn’t succeed, Microsoft apparently offered Altman a job, bringing on Greg Brockman — OpenAI’s president and co-founder who quit to protest Altman’s firing — to oversee Microsoft’s new AI research team.

OpenAI has named former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear as Alatman’s interim replacement, but — according to the memo cited in the Bloomberg report — is still in touch with Altman. However, “they are not prepared to give us a final response this evening,” Makanju wrote.

Altman’s firing sent shockwaves through the AI world and has reportedly even led some investors in the company to consider legal action against the board.

PYMNTS looked at the fallout from Altman’s departure in a report Monday, noting that OpenAI’s loss might not necessarily be Microsoft’s gain, as many employees who jump ship “may look for roles at other AI startups” and incumbent giants.

“After all, OpenAI built the single most recognizable consumer-grade AI product and helped kickstart the entire commercial AI space,” the report said. “Tech companies will be very interested in the engineers, researchers and staff that helped it do so.”