The former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear has been appointed as the interim CEO of OpenAI, as reported by The Information. This is coming after the OpenAI board ousted its founding CEO, Sam Altman on Friday.
Neither Shear nor OpenAI immediately responded to requests for comment, leaving many in suspense about the future direction of the prominent AI company known for developing the most popular AI chatbot, ChatGPT.
The rapid dismissal of Altman is attributed to reported friction with board members, especially chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, concerning the pace of AI development. Greg Brockman, the company’s president, subsequently resigned after he was also removed from the board.
The board initially named CTO Mira Murati as Altman’s temporary replacement, eliciting mixed reactions from employees, some of whom threatened to quit. Simultaneously, investors urged the board to reconsider Altman’s termination. On Sunday, Altman posted a selfie from within OpenAI’s offices, holding a “guest” badge, while the board deliberated its next move.
Bloomberg reported that the board’s decision to appoint Shear was made in defiance of calls to reinstate Altman.
Read More: Why Sam Altman was ousted as Open AI CEO
Emmett Shear’s Journey from Twitch Co-founder to OpenAI’s Interim CEO
Emmett Shear co-founded the live-streaming platform Twitch, a company that Amazon acquired for nearly $1 billion in 2014. In March, after a 16-year tenure at Twitch, he stepped down as CEO, citing the birth of his first child. Despite now filling the shoes of the CEO he once moved in similar Silicon Valley circles with, Shear’s history intertwines with Altman’s. Both were named part-time partners for the startup incubator, Y Combinator in 2011, with Altman later assuming a leadership role.
While Shear identifies as a techno-optimist, he hasn’t shied away from expressing profound concerns about the risks associated with rogue sentient AI. On the Logan Bartlett podcast in June, he emphasized, “This is not a figure-it-out-later thing. This, like, is a big problem.”
Chase, a former Twitch spokesperson now at StreamElements, described Shear as “a good fit to helm OpenAI given his passion for benefiting the many over the few, as he illustrated with Twitch. This is coupled with his concerns about the potential for AI to be dangerous.”
Altman’s exit and the division in AI development
Sam Altman’s departure and subsequent attempted return prompt inquiries into OpenAI’s governance and future trajectory. Scrutiny is directed at a structure allowing a select few, external to the company, to determine Altman’s fate—an arrangement initially designed to safeguard OpenAI’s technology for the benefit of humanity. Investors have expressed unease about the nonprofit board’s lack of corporate governance.
Altman’s exit caught investors off guard, including Microsoft, a major partner that has invested $13 billion and offered substantial cloud computing resources. They advocate for Altman’s reinstatement, highlighting the unexpected turn of events for a company founded in 2015 to counter profit-driven motives, particularly tech giants like Google.
OpenAI, led by Altman, experienced a meteoric rise, securing $10 billion in funding from Microsoft this year and unveiling GPT-4 Turbo. However, concerns emerge within the board about Altman’s fundraising strategies, perceived as a divergence from the mission to ensure safe AI development.
As AI capabilities escalate, discussions on safety intensify, even within OpenAI’s board. Altman’s push for funding, including a challenge to Nvidia’s dominance with a chipmaking initiative, raises concerns about the company’s original mission and sparks internal debates, mirroring broader industry apprehensions about the potential risks of advancing AI technology.
Sam Altman’s exploits have seen him bag the first-ever recipient of Indonesia’s 10-year Golden Visa.
Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!