Emmett Shear and the OpenAI Founders: What they have to Say about their Successes and Expenditures in OpenAI
Most of the staff at OpenAI have threatened to resign from the company and join Microsoft, which has hired ousted OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and former OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman to lead a new “advanced AI research team.” More than 500 current OpenAI staffers have stated in a letter that Microsoft has assured them that there are jobs for all of them in the new subsidiary if they choose to join, according to Kara Swisher.
An attempt to restore Altman as CEO and replace the board ran into difficulty Sunday over the role of existing directors in choosing their replacements, Bloomberg reported.
Nathan Benaich, general partner of Air Street Capital and coauthor of the “State of AI Report,” says OpenAI’s corporate structure has proven to be at odds with the need to support cutting-edge research through huge amounts of equity investment. He says that physics won out in the experiment, because it was an attempt to defy corporate physics.
When Sam Altman, Elon Musk, and other investors formed the startup behind ChatGPT as a US not-for-profit organization in 2015, Altman told Vanity Fair he had very little experience with nonprofits. “So I’m just not sure how it’s going to go,” he said.
In his statement, he said they remain committed to the partnership with Openai and have confidence in their product roadmap, as well as in their ability to continue to innovate. “We look forward to getting to know Emmett Shear and OAI’s new leadership team and working with them.”
Microsoft’s new advanced AI research team, led by Altman and Brockman, comes just a week after Microsoft announced it has built its own custom AI chip that can be used to train large language models and potentially avoid a costly reliance on Nvidia. Altman had been reportedly pitching a separate startup to build custom, Nvidia-rivaling AI tensor processing unit (TPU) chips to investors recently, according to The New York Times.
Now Shear takes over OpenAI in a huge shakeup nearly a year after the launch of ChatGPT. “I took this job because I believe that OpenAI is one of the most important companies currently in existence,” says Shear. “When the board shared the situation and asked me to take the role, I did not make the decision lightly. I felt a responsibility to help if I could.
Shear resigned as Twitch CEO earlier this year, after co-founding the Justin.tv platform that eventually became Twitch. At a time when the company is going through a rough patch, he is taking over as OpenAI’s interim CEO. Chief technology officer Mira Murati briefly became the interim CEO of OpenAI on Friday, following the shock firing of Sam Altman. Many OpenAI employees showed a public display of support for Altman amid negotiations with the OpenAI board to potentially bring him back.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made the announcement that Altman, 38, would be coming on board in a post on X sent just before 3 a.m. eastern time Monday.
Greg Brockman, the former president of Openai who resigned in protest at Altman’s sudden departure, will be joining Microsoft’s new artificial intelligence division with him.
OpenAI, founded by Altman, Elon Musk and others about eight years ago as a nonprofit AI research lab, released ChatGPT last year, setting the pace for the entire tech industry’s focus on a sophisticated type of artificial intelligence known as generative AI.
Apparently Microsoft is still investing a lot in OpenAI, with the report saying it’s worth around $10 billion. Microsoft is the sole cloud partner for OpenAI, which means that their cloud services power all Openai workload in products,API services and research.
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According to the author of the State of Air Street Capital report, Satya now looks like one of the most epic kingmakers.
Remarkably, the letter’s signees include Ilya Sutskever, the company’s chief scientist and a member of its board, who has been blamed for coordinating the boardroom coup against Altman in the first place.
Nadela appeared to leave the door open to any OpenAI employees eager to jump ship, adding of Altman’s new Microsoft subsidiary: “We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success.”
One of the four cofounders of Justin.tv was Shear. The site was moved to its own platform in June of 2011 so that it would become the go-to place for video game streaming. Amazon bought the company for $1 billion in 2014.
“He’s a typical Silicon Valley engineer type,” says one senior Twitch employee, who worked with Shear for a number of years and spoke on the condition of anonymity since they were not authorized to speak to the media. Highly intelligent but socially awkward. Shear was not a great communicators, but he could benefit from having a lot of people around him. “He could be very blunt,” they add.
Since the OpenAI board announced the appointment of Shear, several of his old posts on X have been shared on social media. In one, he discussed the prevalence of rape fantasies; in another, he offers that while “Nazis were very evil,” there are scenarios worse than a Nazi takeover. Shear did not immediately respond to a request for comment.