OpenAI’s interim CEO Emmett Shear vowed on Monday to hire an independent investigator to probe the abrupt ouster of co-founder Sam Altman and reform the management team over the next 30 days as he seeks to restore trust in the US start-up after a dramatic weekend.
Ex-Twitch boss Emmett Shear has been appointed to lead the company behind ChatGPT, replacing Altman following his shock sacking on Friday. Earlier on Monday, OpenAI backer Microsoft said Altman will join the company to lead a new advanced artificial intelligence research team.
“It’s clear that the process and communications around Sam’s removal has been handled very badly, which has seriously damaged our trust,” Emmett said in a post on social media platform X describing his new job as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.
Investors in OpenAI, including one of its biggest, Microsoft, had been discussing over the weekend damage control from the dramatic events, including possibly pushing the board to restore Altman as CEO, fearing a mass exodus of talent without him.
Emmett outlined in his post a three-point plan for the first 30 days: hire an investigator to look into the process leading up to “this point” and produce a full report; speak to employees, partners, investors, and customers and reform the management and leadership team in light of recent departures into “an effective force to drive results for our customers”.
Depending on the results, he said he would drive changes in the organisation – up to and including pushing strongly for significant governance changes if necessary.
“OpenAI’s stability and success are too important to allow turmoil to disrupt them like this. I will endeavor to address the key concerns as well, although in many cases I believe it may take longer than a month to achieve true progress.”
The reasons for Altman’s exit are not clear. OpenAI Chief Operating Officer Brad Lightcap told staff on Saturday it was over a “breakdown of communications” not “malfeasance”.
Emmett said he checked on the reasoning before taking the job and Altman was not removed over any disagreement on the safety of powerful AI models.
“Their reasoning was completely different from that. I’m not crazy enough to take this job without board support for commercializing our awesome models,” he said.
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