More than 500 OpenAI employees threaten to quit, call on board to resign after boss Sam Altman sacked

Hundreds of OpenAI staffers are calling for the resignation of the ChatGPT company's board and threatening to quit themselves after a tumultuous weekend that began with the surprise ouster of chief executive Sam Altman and ended with him being hired by Microsoft.

In a letter obtained by CNN, the more than 500 employees accused the OpenAI board of mishandling Altman's firing, failing to provide sufficient evidence for claims he had not been candid with the board and "negotiating in bad faith" with the company's executive leadership.

"Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI," wrote the employees. "We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgement and care for our mission and employees."

The employees also warned they would "imminently" follow Altman to Microsoft unless the board resigns and reinstates him and Greg Brockman, the former OpenAI president who was also removed by the board on Friday.

Among the signatories is Mira Murati, who as recently as Friday had been named by the board as Altman's interim successor, as well as Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI's co-founder, chief scientist and board member who had been widely reported as having played a role in Altman's dismissal. Murati's promotion has since been superseded by the appointment of incoming interim chief executive Emmett Shear, the 40-year-old co-founder of the livestreaming company Twitch.

On Monday, as news of the letter emerged, Sutskever posted an apology on X acknowledging his contribution to the leadership crisis, which appeared to revolve around tensions between Altman and the board about the pace and scope of AI development.

Sam Altman.
Sam Altman. Photo credit: Reuters

"I deeply regret my participation in the board's actions," he said. "I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we've built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company."

The letter highlights the internal divides at OpenAI that have burst into public view after Altman's firing and raises further doubts about the fate of its three non-employee board members. That list includes Quora chief executive Adam D'Angelo, technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley and Helen Toner, director of strategy and foundational research grants at Georgetown University's Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

As they sought to manage the fallout of Altman's firing, the letter claimed, members of the board "informed the leadership team that allowing the company to be destroyed 'would be consistent with the mission'" of OpenAI, which is to "ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity".

The rebuke by some of OpenAI's most senior employees also underscores Altman's loyal following and Microsoft's opportunity to benefit from the situation.

"Microsoft has assured us that there are positions for all OpenAI employees," the letter added.

After Sutskever posted his message to X, Altman amplified the apology by quote-posting it. He added a short commentary consisting of three heart emojis.

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