February 26, 2024

The board of directors at OpenAI, the high-flying artificial intelligence start-up, stood by its decision to push out its former chief executive Sam Altman, according to an internal memo sent to the company’s staff on Sunday night.

OpenAI named Emmett Shear, a former executive at Twitch, as the new interim chief executive, pushing aside Mira Murati, a longtime OpenAI executive who was named interim chief executive after Mr. Altman’s ouster. The board said Mr. Shear has a “unique mix of skills, expertise and relationships that will drive OpenAI forward,” according to the memo viewed by The New York Times.

“The board firmly stands by its decision as the only path to advance and defend the mission of OpenAI,” said the memo, referring to Mr. Altman’s ouster on Friday. It was signed by each of the four directors on the company’s board; Adam D’Angelo, Helen Toner, Ilya Sutskever, and Tasha McCauley.

“Put simply, Sam’s behavior and lack of transparency in his interactions with the board undermined the board’s ability to effectively supervise the company in the manner it was mandated to do,” the memo said.

Mr. Altman’s firing startled the tech industry and OpenAI’s investors, which include Microsoft, Sequoia Capital and Thrive Capital. Microsoft, which has invested more than $13 billion in OpenAI, only learned of Mr. Altman’s exit one minute before it was announced, while other investors discovered that he had been forced out via social media. They were given no further information or updates over the weekend.

Microsoft, OpenAI’s largest investor, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The board did not cite specific incidents involving Mr. Altman as the cause for removing him. Rather, it claimed that Mr. Altman had “lost the trust of the board of directors,” and that removing him was “necessary to preserve the board’s ability to execute its responsibilities and advance the mission of this organization.”

“It is paramount that any CEO be honest and transparent with his or her board,” the memo said.

OpenAI and Mr. Altman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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