Report: 700 of OpenAI's 770 Employees Threaten to Quit

They've signed letter demanding reinstatement of Altman, resignation of board
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2023 2:41 PM CST
Report: 700 of OpenAI's 770 Employees Threaten to Quit
The OpenAI logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen which displays output from ChatGPT.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

A mutiny appears to be brewing at OpenAI after the ouster of CEO Sam Altman. Sources tell the New York Times that more than 700 of the artificial intelligence company's 770 employees, including many of its top researchers, have signed an open letter threatening to leave the start-up for Microsoft if Altman isn't brought back. The employees are also demanding the resignation of the four-person board that fired Altman on Friday, stunning the tech world, the Guardian reports. One surprising signatory is board member Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI's chief scientist.

"I deeply regret my participation in the board's actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI," Sutskever said in a post on X Monday morning. Other board members haven't publicly commented on the letter yet. "Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI," the letter from employees said. "We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgment, and care for our mission and employees." Microsoft said Monday that it had hired Altman and former OpenAI president Greg Brockman, who quit after Altman was fired, "to lead a new advanced AI research team."

The "potential mass exodus" puts the future of OpenAI in doubt, possibly leaving a "black hole in the center of the AI industry," the Washington Post reports. The troubles at OpenAI have also created turmoil for hundreds of companies that rely on its technology. "This is the debacle of the decade," Gaurav Oberoi, founder of the Lexion start-up, which uses OpenAI to help companies streamline contracts, tells the Times. "It's a lesson in how to destroy a huge amount of value overnight and their own reputation." (More OpenAI stories.)

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