Sam Altman will not be returning to OpenAI

Fellow Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear is the new interim CEO.

Sam Altman

Talks over reinstating co-founder and former CEO Sam Altman at OpenAI have apparently broken down. According to The Information and Bloomberg, the board has now hired Altman's fellow Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear as OpenAI's new interim CEO. This appointment was reportedly announced internally by co-founder and board director Ilya Sutskever.

According to a statement he posted on X, Shear's first moves as CEO will include hiring "an independent investigator to dig into the entire process leading up to this point and generate a full report," and to "reform the management and leadership team in light of recent departures." Shear notes that, dependent on the results of the investigation, he is willing make changes to the organization, including, if necessary, "pushing strongly for significant governance changes."

Altman was originally fired from OpenAI over "a breakdown in communication between Sam and the board," according to an oddly blunt internal staff memo published by Axios over the weekend. The news was subsequently followed by resignations from several key team members, including co-founder Greg Brockman — who was ousted as the chairman of the board — along with a few senior researchers. They may end up joining Altman in one of his rumored new ventures — to develop an AI chip to rival NVIDIA, as well as to build an AI-centric hardware in collaboration with former Apple designer, Jony Ive.

It won't be just Altman leaving either. According to a separate report from The Information, "dozens" of OpenAI employees announced internally that they'd be quitting the company as well. Over the weekend, some expressed interest in joining a potential new startup from Altman and could end up with rival companies looking to poach staff, including Google.

On Monday morning, the majority of OpenAI's employees (originally "over 490," according to Wired, but now 505, according to journalist Kara Swisher), called on the board to resign. Signees include former interim CEO Mira Murati and chief scientist/board member Ilya Sutskever. The letter suggests the signees will leave OpenAI and join the new Microsoft subsidiary headed up by Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, unless all current members resign, the board appoints new independent directors and reinstates Altman and Brockman.

The board had allegedly considered reversing Altman's firing, though according to an earlier Bloomberg report, the ousted exec wanted the existing board to resign, and that OpenAI to issue a public apology to him. This arrangement obviously didn't take place in the end. Questions remain as to whether those who walked out with Altman will go back to OpenAI, and how this bizarre series of events will affect the development of GPT-5 plus other related projects.

Update 10:45AM ET: This article has been updated since publish to include Shear's statements about his immediate plans for OpenAI, and the letter calling for OpenAI's board to resign.

This article contains affiliate links; if you click such a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission.