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Over 500 OpenAI employees threaten to quit company unless Sam Altman is reinstated as CEO

Over 500 OpenAI employees threaten to quit company unless Sam Altman is reinstated as CEO

Staff at OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, have reportedly signed a letter threatening to walk out.

It's been a turbulent weekend for the tech world - and now, 500 employees of OpenAI have reportedly signed a letter saying they will quit unless recently ousted CEO Sam Altman is reinstated.

On Friday, the shock news broke that OpenAI - the company behind large language-model chatbot ChatGPT - had pushed out its co-founder and chief executive Altman.

Sam Altman
Sam Altman

“The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI,” the company said in a statement - without giving specific reasons for his dismissal.

Rumours swirled all weekend that Altman was in talks to return to the AI firm, but he wasn't down-and-out for too long.

On Monday morning, it was announced that Altman was joining Microsoft's advanced AI research team, along with his OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman – who also left the company on Friday.

“We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success,” Microsoft boss Satya Nadella said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Sam Altman.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Monday morning showed the first signs of discontent within the company, with multiple members of staff posting the same message on X: “OpenAI is nothing without its people”

According to Wired, around 500 employees at OpenAI - which has a total of around 700 - have signed a letter demanding the company's board resigns and reinstates Altman.

The report says the letter claims the board’s decision to remove Altman and co-founder Brockman has jeopardized the company’s work and accuses the board of not having the competence to oversee the company.

It also reportedly calls for the board to resign and be replaced by two new lead independent directors - and if the demands are not met, the employees who have signed the letter might resign from OpenAI and join Altman and Brockman at Microsoft.

Ilya Sutskever
Ilya Sutskever

In even more surprising news, the letter is said to have been signed by several senior employees at OpenAI - including Ilya Sutskever, the company’s chief technology officer and one of the board members at the centre of the decision to initially remove Altman.

Sutskever has written on X that he “deeply regrets” his participation in the board’s action and that he would “do everything I can to reunite the company”.

OpenAI has since offered the chief executive role to former Twitch boss Emmett Shear, who said he had agreed to join the company.

Featured Image Credit: Justin Sullivan/NurPhoto/Getty Images