OpenAI exploring ‘mutually acceptable options’ after staff threatens to resign

Faced with the prospect of resignations from nearly 70% of its 770-strong workforce, ChatGPT creator OpenAI has opened ‘intense discussions’ in a bid to unify its ‘divided’ staff.

It is a complicated structure at OpenAI, which is what allowed the board the power to fire Altman. (Reuters file photo)

This is according to Bloomberg News, which cited an internal memo written by Anna Makanju, OpenAI’s Vice President of Global Affairs.

What does the memo say?

In the memo, reported Bloomberg, Makanju noted how the San Francisco-based AI research firm is in touch with Sam Altman – the now-former CEO who was sacked by the OpenAI board of directors last week, leading to the ongoing crisis – interim CEO and Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear, and the board itself.

None of those approached, however, is ‘prepared to give us a final response this evening,’ Makanju wrote.

“We are continuing to go over mutually acceptable options and are scheduled to speak again tomorrow (Tuesday) morning when everyone has had a little more sleep. These intense discussions can drag out, and I know it can feel impossible to be patient,” she added.

She also had a word of assurance for employees, stating that the organisation has a plan that ‘we are working towards.’

Why have employees threatened to resign?

On Monday, 505 employees wrote to the board of directors, seeking their resignation, and the reinstatement of Altman, who has since joined Microsoft, OpenAI’s largest stakeholder, which hired him to lead a new advanced AI research team there.

Accusing the board of ‘undermining our mission and company,’ they threatened to move to Microsoft.

Who all fired Altman?

The board members who fired the 38-year-old are: OpenAI co-founder and its chief scientist Ilya Sutskever; Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, GeoSim Systems CEO Tasha McCauley, and Helen Toner, a director of Strategy and Foundational Research Grants at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET). Greg Brockman, the chairman of the board, resigned in protest over the ouster, and has joined Altman at Microsoft.

Interestingly, Sutskever is now among those who have threatened to join the Satya Nadella-helmed tech giant. In a post on X (formerly Twitter), he expressed regret at his participation in Altman’s removal.

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