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More than 500 OpenAI staffers threaten to quit in mass revolt after CEO Sam Altman’s surprise exit

More than 500 OpenAI staffers have reportedly threatened to quit on Monday unless the company’s embattled board of directors resigns over its surprise move on Friday to oust Sam Altman from the company.

The furious employees said they “may choose to resign” and join Altman – who took a new gig as head of an AI research unit at Microsoft on Sunday – unless all current OpenAI board members step down and both Altman and OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman are restored to their posts.

“Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI,” the OpenAI employees said, according to a memo obtained by Wired. “We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgement and care for our mission and employees.”

In addition, the workers demanded that OpenAI appoint two new lead independent directors. They floated former Twitter board chairman Bret Taylor and former US Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) – who departed OpenAI’s board earlier this year – as acceptable options.

As of Sunday, “dozens’ of OpenAI staffers had already quit the firm in protest of Altman’s dismissal, The Information reported. The firm as more than 700 staffers.

Meanwhile, OpenAI’s interim CEO Emmett Shear, who stepped in to replace Altman following days of intense negotiations between the board, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and other stakeholders, is already scrambling to salvage the situation.

Shear pledged to order an independent investigation into the events that led to Altman’s firing, as well as lead an overhaul of OpenAI’s management and leadership team and improve communication with remaining staffers.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman (above) has reportedly been in talks with Apple’s former chief designer Jony Ive about launching an AI-powered device that would be the “iPhone of artificial intelligence.”
AFP via Getty Images

“It’s clear that the process and communications around Sam’s removal has been handled very badly, which has seriously damaged our trust,” Shear wrote on X.

Meanwhile, OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, the board director who is said to have played a key role in Altman’s shock dismissal, admitted that he wished the situation had been handled differently.

“I deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we’ve built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company,” Sutskever said.

This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.

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