Depending on how you look at the OpenAI CEO mess that helped Microsoft’s Satya Nadella acquire a big chunk of the talent behind ChatGPT without buying OpenAI, Ilya Sutskever is either the big villain or the savior we didn’t know we needed.
However, Sutskever, one of the key minds behind ChatGPT AI, seems to have a big problem with the way he and other OpenAI board members ousted former CEO Sam Altman.
Sutskever (the engineer) is one of the more than 500 OpenAI employees who signed a letter to the board. They’re asking the entire board to resign and bring back Sam Altman, including Sutskever, since he’s currently on the board. One way or another, it seems like Ilya Sutskever will be out of at least one job soon.
The question is, what happens next, given that Sam Altman, OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman, and other key OpenAI employees have already inked a deal with Microsoft? As a fan of Max’s amazing Succession TV show, I need someone to make a movie out of all of this OpenAI nonsense. If it’s not resolved by this coming weekend, we might even have a limited TV series on our hands.
Kara Swisher posted the letter on Twitter/X, as seen below. Separately, Wired also reported on the development. The letter certainly looks genuine. And considering the outpour of support in favor of Altman on social media over the weekend, it’s not surprising to see OpenAI employees rally behind their former CEO.
Both reports noted that Ilya Sutskever is one of the signatories. Interestingly enough, the OpenAI co-fouder posted a message on Twitter/X himself, practically confirming the story.
“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.”
That sounds great. But I don’t understand why there aren’t reports of Sutskever resigning from the OpenAI board. He could have done it via Twitter.
The OpenAI employees say they want the entire board out; therefore Ilya Sutskever too. If their requirements are not met, they threaten to join Microsoft’s new ChatGPT venture that Sam Altman will run:
Your actions [the board] have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI. We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgment, 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.
Satya Nadella made it clear on Twitter/X in the early hours of Monday there’s room for other OpenAI employees at the venture.
As a fan of ChatGPT and generative AI (but also, again, Succession), I can’t wait to see what happens next. By the time I finish writing this article, the OpenAI board may have already resigned, in which case Ilya Sutskever will remain at OpenAI as a lead AI engineer. If the board doesn’t resign, then Ilya Sutskever might join Microsoft’s AI group but stay on the OpenAI board.
Again, Satya Nadella’s quick hiring of Sam Altman was brilliant. It might be the best thing he did while leading Microsoft.
Altman had this to say: