Sam Altman won’t return as CEO of OpenAI, despite efforts by the company’s executives to bring him back, according to co-founder and board director Ilya Sutskever. After a weekend of negotiations with the board of directors that fired him Friday, as well as with its remaining leaders and top investors, Altman will not return to the startup he co-founded in 2015, Sutskever told staff. Emmett Shear, co-founder of video streaming site Twitch, will take over as interim CEO, Sutskever said.
The decision—which flew in the face of comments OpenAI executives shared with staff on Saturday and early Sunday—could deepen a crisis precipitated by the board’s sudden ouster of Altman and its removal of President Greg Brockman from the board Friday. Brockman, a key engineer behind the company’s successes, resigned later that day, followed by three senior researchers, threatening to set off a broader wave of departures to OpenAI’s rivals, including Google, and to a new venture Altman has been plotting in the wake of his firing. Distraught employees streamed out of OpenAI headquarters in San Francisco a little after 9 p.m., shortly after the decision was announced internally. One of the people who left the office appeared to be research chief Bob McGrew, who was one of the many executives working to bring Altman and Brockman back.