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OpenAI Employees Threaten Mass Exodus, Urge Board Resignation in Support of Ousted CEO Altman

In a move that underscores deep internal turmoil, hundreds of OpenAI employees, including high-profile executives and co-founder Ilya Sutskever, have taken a stand against the company’s board. These employees, nearly the entirety of OpenAI’s workforce, are demanding the resignation of the remaining board members, threatening to join the company’s ousted CEO, Sam Altman, in his new venture at Microsoft.
The situation came to light following a letter first reported by NBCNews, which approximately 667 OpenAI staff members signed out of a total of 770. The letter starkly criticizes the board’s capabilities, stating, “Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI.”
This employee revolt is a direct response to the recent board-driven ousting of Altman. In a surprising turn, Microsoft, which has been a critical investor in OpenAI, has emerged as a potential haven for these employees. Microsoft has assured the signatories of employment within its new subsidiary should they leave OpenAI.
The letter’s signatories include some of OpenAI’s most influential figures, such as former interim CEO Mira Murati and COO Brad Lightcap. Further complicating the narrative is the involvement of Ilya Sutskever, who initially played a role in Altman’s removal. In a social media post, Sutskever expressed deep regret over participating in the board’s actions, aligning himself with the aggrieved employees.
Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, announced on Sunday that Altman and fellow OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman would join the company in a new, largely independent venture. Nadella’s statement also hinted at other OpenAI colleagues joining Microsoft, though the exact number remains unclear.

Meanwhile, Altman posted the following on twitter an hour ago:

The ongoing saga has spotlighted the internal conflicts within OpenAI and raised questions about the organization’s future. With Microsoft playing a pivotal role in this unfolding drama, the potential talent migration could significantly impact OpenAI’s trajectory in the AI industry.
As of now, Microsoft has declined to comment on whether it would hire employees choosing to leave OpenAI. Similarly, OpenAI has not immediately responded to the letter or the growing unrest among its employees. This development marks a significant chapter in the tech industry, highlighting corporate governance challenges and employee solidarity’s power in shaping the future of technology companies.

Here is the letter:

“To the Board of Directors at OpenAI,

OpenAI is the world’s leading AI company. We, the employees of OpenAI, have developed the best models and pushed the field to new frontiers. Our work on AI safety and governance shapes global norms. The products we built are used by millions of people around the world. Until now, the company we work for and cherish has never been in a stronger position.

The process through which you terminated Sam Altman and removed Greg Brockman from the board has jeopardized all of this work and undermined our mission and company. Your conduct has made it clear you did not have the competence to oversee OpenAI.

When we all unexpectedly learned of your decision, the leadership team of OpenAI acted swiftly to stabilize the company. They carefully listened to your concerns and tried to cooperate with you on all grounds. Despite many requests for specific facts for your allegations, you have never provided any written evidence. They also increasingly realized you were not capable of carrying out your duties, and were negotiating in bad faith.

The leadership team suggested that the most stabilizing path forward – the one that would best serve our mission, company, stakeholders, employees and the public – would be for you to resign and put in place a qualified board that could lead the company forward in stability. Leadership worked with you around the clock to find a mutually agreeable outcome. Yet within two days of your initial decision, you again replaced interim CEO Mira Murati against the best interests of the company. You also informed the leadership team that allowing the company to be destroyed “would be consistent with the mission.”

Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI. We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgement and care for our mission and employees. We, the undersigned, may choose to resign from OpenAI and join the newly announced Microsoft subsidiary run by Sam Altman and Greg Brockman. Microsoft has assured us that there are positions for all OpenAI employees at this new subsidiary should we choose to join. We will take this step imminently, unless all current board members resign, and the board appoints two new lead independent directors, such as Bret Taylor and Will Hurd, and reinstates Sam Altman and Greg Brockman.”



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