2 of OpenAI’s key players are still seeking answers to Altman’s firing

As Emmett Shear and Satya Nadella work to steady the OpenAI ship, they say they still don’t know why Sam Altman was fired.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, Justin Sullivan/Getty Images and Eoin Noonan/Web Summit via Getty Images,

  • Satya Nadella and Emmett Shear emerge as two key players in getting OpenAI out of chaos.
  • Even so, the two still don’t seem to know why Sam Altman was actually fired.
  • Nadella said “nothing was said”, while Shear would struggle to find answers.

Sam Altman is out, Emmett Shear is in, all of OpenAI is in revolt, the tech world is angry, and the man who executed the board’s ouster of Altman has now turned around against them.

The fate of OpenAI, arguably the most famous artificial intelligence company in recent times, is now extremely unclear.

At the heart of the storm, Shear, the company’s new interim CEO, and Microsoft, OpenAI’s largest investor led by Satya Nadella, appear to be the main designers of the way out of the crisis.

And both indicate they still don’t know what led to Altman’s firing Friday — the shock move that started this chain of events.

Nadella said it unequivocally on Monday.

“I wasn’t told anything,” he told Bloomberg. “The board hasn’t talked about anything Sam did other than a communication breakdown.”

This is despite Microsoft’s CEO being actively involved in negotiations with OpenAI over its next steps, including offering new roles to Altman and Greg Brockman, the company’s president who resigned on Saturday.

This is despite the fact that Microsoft is by far the largest investor in OpenAI, owning 49% of the company.

Nadella made clear to Bloomberg that his camp was caught off guard by Altman’s ouster.

“Surprises are bad, and we just want to make sure things are done in a way that will allow us to collaborate well,” he said.

At OpenAI, a newly named Shear also appears to be out of the loop, according to The Verge.

Shear tweeted Sunday evening that he had verified the reason for Altman’s firing and seemed to indicate that he had gotten some sort of answer, which he did not reveal.

But since taking office, he has been unable to obtain written documentation containing the board’s full explanation for Altman’s ouster, the outlet reported, citing unnamed sources close to the company. situation.

One of Shear’s first moves as interim CEO had to announce it is hiring an independent investigator to “dig deeper into the entire process leading up to this point and generate a comprehensive report.”

He told OpenAI employees the same thing on Sunday evening, The Verge reported.

The AI ​​company held an all-hands meeting with Shear at its San Francisco headquarters that evening, which most employees declined to attend, Business Insider’s Kali Hays reported.

Workers who showed up were told that Altman had been expelled because he was accused of assigning the same project to two staff members. Another explanation given was that Altman allegedly gave two board members different opinions about someone at the company.

Employees didn’t buy it, Hays reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Meanwhile, Altman himself has not explained why the board kicked him out of the company he co-founded.

One of the leading social media theories is that Altman clashed with the board over commercialization rather than slowing AI development for security reasons.

Major media outlets such as The Atlantic and The Washington Post have cited people close to the controversy who said such debate has been tearing executives apart recently.

And according to The Information, which first reported Altman’s firing, OpenAI’s board had contacted rival Anthropic about a possible merger, although it was unclear to what extent. this was directly related to the layoff debacle.

Regardless of how the OpenAI drama ends, Altman promised he would continue working with the company “in one way or another.”

His potential new position at Microsoft, where he will lead an AI research team, would still see him involved in some way with his old company, he tweeted Monday.

He and Nadella would ensure operations at OpenAI continue, he said, as customers say they are getting nervous and looking to jump ship.

“The OpenAI/Microsoft partnership makes this very feasible,” Altman said.

The Microsoft and OpenAI press teams did not immediately respond to BI’s requests for comment sent outside of normal business hours.

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