500 of OpenAI’s 770 employees are calling on the company’s board to resign and reinstate Sam Altman as CEO, multiple outlets have reported.  In a letter to the board, staff questioned the board’s competence and ability to oversee the company. The signatories threatened to defect and work for Altman at Microsoft’s new AI subsidiary, saying: “Microsoft has assured us that there are positions for all OpenAI employees at this new subsidiary should we choose to join." 
Former CEO and co-founder Sam Altman was abruptly ousted from OpenAI on Friday on claims of not being consistently candid with the board. The announcement came as a shock and was followed by the resignation of President Greg Brockman and a handful of top executives from the company.
Interim CEO Mira Murati, along with COO Brad Lightcap, and chief strategy officer Jason Kwon were among the signatories, as was chief scientist Ilya Sutskever. Sutskever, one of OpenAI’s board members, informed Altman of his removal on Friday.
The letter said that Altman’s removal jeopardizes the work of employees and undermines the company’s mission. It calls for the appointment of two independent lead board members, tech industry veteran Bret Taylor and Will Hurd, a politician who sat on OpenAI’s board in 2021.
Earlier today, interim CEO Mira Murati, along with other OpenAI staff, posted on X that “OpenAI is nothing without its people.”
Along with Brockman, Sutskever, and Altman, OpenAI’s board includes the CEO of the Q&A forum Quora Adam D’Angelo, tech entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, and AI safety researcher at Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Helen Toner.
OpenAI is nothing without its people— Mira Murati (@miramurati) November 20, 2023
OpenAI, which has an estimated value of $86 billion, is backed by Microsoft, which has poured upward of $10 billion into the company. Khosla Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, and Thrive Capital also have stakes in the company.
Earlier today, Microsoft chief Satya Nadella announced that Sam Altman and Greg Brockman would join the tech giant to lead an advanced research lab. In posts on X, LinkedIn, and Microsoft's blog, Nadella said that the company remained committed to its partnership with OpenAI.
Founded in 2015 as a non-profit to develop safe and beneficial AI, OpenAI formed a for-profit subsidiary in 2019, which has allowed it to receive billions of dollars of investment from Microsoft.  Despite the restructuring, the company’s board of independent directors gets the final say in the for-profit business.