Former Twitch CEO Takes Over as New OpenAI Leader After Sudden Removal of Sam Altman
In a surprising leadership shakeup, artificial intelligence startup OpenAI has brought on former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear as its new chief executive just two days after abruptly removing Sam Altman from the CEO role.
Investors Caught Off Guard By Sudden Leadership Switch
OpenAI’s board of directors announced late Friday that Altman was being removed from the CEO position, citing a lack of transparency in his communications with the board. They said he “was not consistently candid” in discussions with them.
The unexpected decision caught OpenAI’s high-profile investors, including Microsoft, Tiger Global, Thrive Capital, and Sequoia Capital, completely off guard. None of those major firms have seats on OpenAI’s board, and they were not consulted or given advance warning about the plan to oust Altman.
After the Friday night announcement, those surprised investors quickly began working behind the scenes over the weekend to convince the board to reverse their decision and keep Altman in place. However, despite their efforts, the board refused to change course.
Shear Brings Deep Experience Scaling Startups
To replace Altman, OpenAI has now brought on former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear in the top role. Shear stepped down from leading popular livestreaming giant Twitch in March after years of rapid growth.
With his deep experience quickly scaling up startups like Twitch and Justin.tv in the past, Shear seems well-positioned to guide OpenAI through its current hypergrowth phase. The artificial intelligence startup exploded into a household name in late 2022 with the launch of its conversational ChatGPT chatbot.
Shear’s familiarity with Altman via his part-time role at startup accelerator Y Combinator, which Altman previously led, is also likely to help smooth the transition during this tumultuous time.
Altman Bound for Microsoft
While no longer OpenAI’s CEO, Altman already has his next role lined up. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced plans over the weekend for Altman to lead a new advanced artificial intelligence research team at Microsoft.
This allows Altman to stay closely involved with innovations in the red-hot AI field after guiding OpenAI from its nonprofit origins in 2019 to mainstream prominence in 2022, largely due to ChatGPT’s viral popularity.
OpenAI will now look to Shear to lead the company’s vision, strategy, and operations during this critical growth phase as chatbots and AI continue to explode in popularity. His experience rapidly scaling startups positions him well for this challenge at this high-profile startup.