OpenAI taps Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear as interim CEO – GeekWire

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Taylor Soper
2023-11-20 00:31:21

Former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear is now reportedly the interim CEO of OpenAI. (GeekWire File Photo from TechCrunch Disrupt in 2016)

Emmett Shear, the co-founder and former CEO of Twitch, has reportedly been named interim CEO at OpenAI, the latest turn in a wildly dramatic weekend for the ChatGPT-maker following the ouster of Sam Altman as CEO.

The Information and Bloomberg both reported late Sunday that the OpenAI board tapped Shear as CEO.

OpenAI shocked the tech industry Friday when its board announced that Altman was out as CEO of the company he helped start in 2015. The decision blindsided even Microsoft, a key OpenAI partner that has invested billions into the company.

Reports over the weekend indicated that Altman and Greg Brockman, co-founder and former chairman who quit Friday, could make a return. OpenAI investors, including Microsoft, were reportedly pressuring the board to bring Altman back, according to The New York Times. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was directly involved in the negotiations, The Information reported.

But the board went a different direction, tapping Shear, who helped launch Twitch in 2006 and sold it to Amazon for nearly $1 billion in 2014.

Shear resigned from Twitch earlier this year, writing that “I feel ready for this change to tackle new challenges.”

The surprise removal of Altman raised questions about the company’s role in the AI revolution, the ambitions of Altman and his team, the impact of his exit on the rest of the tech industry, OpenAI’s complex corporate structure, and its unusual partnership with Microsoft.

In a statement on Friday, OpenAI said Altman “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities.”

“The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI,” the company said.

OpenAI originally formed as a non-profit organization, OpenAI Inc., dedicated to building artificial general intelligence for the advancement of humanity. In 2019, the non-profit created an affiliated “capped-profit” entity, OpenAI Global LLC, aimed at giving it the resources to pursue goals without the profit incentives of a traditional company.

Reports indicate that a conflict between Altman’s ambitions for OpenAI and the mission of the nonprofit were at the core of the board’s decision to oust him as CEO and remove Brockman as chairman. Brockman was initially designated to report to Mira Murati, the OpenAI CTO who was named interim CEO by the board, but he then resigned from his executive role later Friday afternoon.

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