OpenAI names former Twitch chief as interim CEO; Altman joins Microsoft

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 20 (Reuters) – OpenAI has tapped former Twitch chief Emmett Scheer to lead the startup, replacing CEO Sam Altman, who will join the company’s biggest backer Microsoft (MSFT.O) to lead a new advanced AI research team. From the software giant late Sunday.

“We look forward to getting to know and work with Emmett Shear and the new OAI leadership team,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella posted on social media platform X. He added that Microsoft remains committed to its partnership with OpenAI.

A person familiar with the appointment told Reuters that Scheer has been appointed interim CEO.

The decision not to reinstate Altman as CEO of the company behind ChatGPT has confounded efforts by investors and company employees to steady the ship by bringing him back after the board fired him on Friday, a surprise move that rocked the tech world.

They fear his sudden dismissal could lead to a talent exodus and impact an upcoming $86 billion stock sale.

Nadella said Altman will join Microsoft “to lead a new advanced AI research team.”

Reuters previously reported that Altman was discussing a potential return to OpenAI and changing the company’s management structure, even as he was considering launching a new AI project.

Altman and Greg Brockman, who resigned from OpenAI’s board as chairman as part of a management shakeup, joined executives at company headquarters on Sunday after then-interim CEO Mira Moratti told employees she had invited Altman, The Information reported earlier on Sunday.

Brockman will also join the software company, Nadella said.

Altman posted a photo of himself on Channel X on Sunday wearing an OpenAI guest badge with the caption: “First and last time I’m wearing one of these.” In a separate post on X, he reshared Nadella’s message with the caption, “Mission continues.”

Cher co-founded Twitch and resigned from the Amazon.com-owned live video streaming platform earlier this year.

Brockman resigned over Altman’s firing on Friday. Their departure shocked many employees who found out about the sudden management change through an internal letter and from the company’s public blog.

Some researchers, including Szymon Sidor, also left the company after the CEO change, two people familiar with the matter said. Sidor confirmed the resignation.

The Information first reported Scheer’s appointment as interim CEO.

Shortly after the internal announcement of Scheer’s appointment, stunned employees “walked out” of OpenAI’s headquarters in San Francisco, The Information reported.

Dozens of employees announced internally that they would leave the company Sunday night, she said, citing a person familiar with the situation.

OpenAI started the generative AI craze a year ago by launching ChatGPT. Chatbot has become one of the fastest growing software applications in the world.

(Reporting by Urvi Duggar and Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru and Stephanie Kelly in New York) Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee, Myung Kim and Sam Holmes

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Jeffrey Dustin is a Reuters correspondent based in San Francisco, where he reports on the technology and artificial intelligence industry. He joined Reuters in 2014, originally writing about airlines and travel from the New York bureau. Dustin graduated from Yale University with a degree in history. He was part of a team that studied Amazon.com’s lobbying around the world, for which he won a SOPA award in 2022.

Anna Tong is a Reuters correspondent based in San Francisco, where she reports on the technology industry. She joined Reuters in 2023 after working at the San Francisco Standard as a data editor. Tong previously worked at tech startups as a product manager and at Google where she worked in user insights and helped run a call center. Tong graduated from Harvard University. Contact: 4152373211

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