The Microsoft-backed artificial intelligence (AI) company OpenAI had a major shift in leadership over the weekend after its board of directors abruptly ousted former CEO and co-founder Sam Altman on Nov. 17.
In the days following, the board received pressure to reinstate Altman as CEO, with chief technology officer Mira Murati appointed as interim CEO of the company.
However, on Nov. 20, three days after Altman’s departure, OpenAI announced its new CEO Emmett Shear. Shear is the co-founder and former CEO of the video streaming platform Twitch, which is owned by Amazon.
Shortly after the announcement surfaced, Shear took to X (formerly Twitter) and confirmed his acceptance of the new role with a lengthy post about his future plans for the company. He said he stepped down from Twitch due to becoming a father and did not take the decision lightly when approached by the OpenAI board.
Today I got a call inviting me to consider a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to become the interim CEO of @OpenAI. After consulting with my family and reflecting on it for just a few hours, I accepted. I had recently resigned from my role as CEO of Twitch due to the birth of my…— Emmett Shear (@eshear) November 20, 2023
He said the process around the “removal” of Altman was “handled very badly, which has seriously damaged our trust.”
According to the new CEO, in the next 30 days, he plans to hire a private investigator to dig through the events that led up to his hiring, speak with remaining employees and reform management and leadership.
“OpenAI’s stability and success are too important to allow turmoil to disrupt them like this,” he said. “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.”
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He also clarified in his post that prior to taking the role, he checked the “reasoning” behind the change and stated that:
“The board did *not* remove Sam over any specific disagreement on safety, their reasoning was completely different from that.”
Shear also served as a part-time partner at venture capital firm Y Combinator and is a graduate of Yale University with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in computer science.
Since he was appointed CEO, images of the two executives in a Y Combinator class have begun circulating on social media.
photo of Emmett Shear (red) and Sam Altman (yellow) from when they were in the original 2005 Y Combinator class together. pic.twitter.com/x2lI64e6sU— John Coogan (@johncoogan) November 20, 2023
Earlier in 2023, Shear appeared on a podcast in which he called advanced AI an “intrinsically very dangerous thing because intelligence is power.”
Hours before OpenAI named its new CEO, Big Tech giant Microsoft, a majority backer of OpenAI, announced it would hire both Altman and former board member and president Greg Brockman.
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