A lot has been happening at OpenAI, and in the AI world. Just a while back Sam Altman, Greg Brockman and others have joined Microsoft (and more to join soon), while the co-founder of Twitch, Emmett Shear, has been made the interim CEO of the hottest AI startup in the tech world, replacing Mira Murati.
AIM asked Shear as to how he became the CEO of OpenAI, he candidly replied saying, “Rapidly and Unexpectedly.”
It has been a crazy few days for all of us at AIM, even so for OpenAI and Microsoft (to say at least). Shear’s statement embodies the urgency of ensuring smooth operations at the company, alongside the retention talent, and reinforcing trust among its customers, and not to forget the fear around pulling a plug on ChatGPT.
“I want to do everything in my power to protect it and foster its growth,” said Shear, in a X post sharing his experience.
Interestingly, Shear had only a few hours to accept the opportunity. “Today I got a call inviting me to consider a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to become the interim CEO of OpenAI. After consulting with my family and reflecting on it for just a few hours, I accepted,” he added.
Shear fits perfectly. The 40-year old American internet entrepreneur and investor somewhat shares a similar philosophy as Altman. He is popularly known for co-founded prominent live video platforms, namely Justin.tv and TwitchTV (which he later sold to Amazon at a whopping $970 million).
Shear plays a role as a part-time partner at the venture capital firm Y Combinator. Notably, he is also a co-founder of Kiko Software, recognised as the first AJAX-based online calendar, which he sold on eBay – a true go-getter in every sense of the word, and not your typical entrepreneur.
Only recently, he resigned from his role as CEO of Twitch due to the birth of his son who is now just 9 months old.
A man with a plan
It has only been a few hours since he was appointed as the interim CEO at OpenAI, and Shear is all about business, and has come up with a 30-days plan already, unlike Murati, who is busy spreading love on X with good intentions, hopefully.
“The stability and success of OpenAI are too crucial to be disrupted by turmoil like this,” remarked Shear. He expressed his commitment to addressing key concerns, acknowledging that “it may take longer than a month to achieve substantial progress.”
The times are turbulent for OpenAI, as a majority of its employees are planning to leave the company following Altman’s departure. Furthermore, the three researchers who left OpenAI have also joined Microsoft’s new AI team.
No drama, only…
To bring OpenAI back on track amid the drama, Shear has a three-point plan of action for the next 30 days. He said that he would hire an independent investigator to dig into the entire process leading up to this point and generate a full report.
On the other hand, shortly after Altman’s firing, Murati expressed her support to team Sam, where she further tried her level best to bring back Altman and Greg Brockman at OpenAI.
However, nobody knows why Murati was replaced from the position of interim CEO. Rumours suggest that she might quit really soon and join them. But, it is highly unlikely as she shares a really close bond with both Microsoft and OpenAI, and the latter needs her more to retain talent.
Meanwhile Shear is also at it, where he plans to reform the management and leadership team in light of recent departures, turning it into an effective force to drive results for our customers.
Further, Shear intends to continue speaking to as many of OpenAI’s existing employees, partners, investors, and customers as possible, taking thorough notes, and sharing the key takeaways.
Shear ️ Sam
Shear is also empathetic. “I have nothing but respect for what Sam and the entire OpenAI team have built,” wrote Shear. Furthermore, he noted that the process and communication around Sam’s removal have been “handled poorly” damaging OpenAI’s trust.
Most importantly, he mentioned that the board did not remove Altman over any specific disagreement on safety; their reasoning was completely different.
It is interesting to note, if not Shear, who else were the board considering next – maybe Andrej Karpathy (who knows). But, that conversion is for another day. “I’m not crazy enough to take this job without board support for commercialising our awesome models,” he added.
Shear also aligns with Microsoft’s vision, where he said: “Our partnership with Microsoft remains strong, and my priority in the coming weeks will be to ensure we continue to serve all our customers well.”
Microsoft echoed similar sentiment, with chief Satya Nadella saying, “We look forward to getting to know Emmett Shear and the new leadership team at OpenAI and working with them.”
The future of OpenAI is highly uncertain at this point in time, and there is no better leader than Shear. It is surely going to be exciting times for OpenAI and the team – who have given nothing but love (ChatGPT and powerful AI models (like GPT-4 Turbo and GPT-5 in the making) – all for the betterment of humanity, and changing the way we communicate with machines.
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