Emmett Shear—who cofounded and formerly headed up streaming service Twitch—was named interim CEO of OpenAI on Sunday after Sam Altman’s shocking ouster, only to be replaced around three days later when Altman was reinstated.
In a Tuesday night post on X, Shear insisted he was happy with Altman being brought back to lead OpenAI—even though it meant he would have to step aside.
“I am deeply pleased by this result, after [around] 72 very intense hours of work,” he wrote. “I’m glad to have been part of the solution.”
I am deeply pleased by this result, after ~72 very intense hours of work. Coming into OpenAI, I wasn’t sure what the right path would be. This was the pathway that maximized safety alongside doing right by all stakeholders involved. I’m glad to have been a part of the solution. https://t.co/AGoDBbwhkq
— Emmett Shear (@eshear) November 22, 2023
Before taking the top job at OpenAI, Shear—who sold his company to Amazon for almost $1 billion in 2014—described himself in his X profile bio as “super opinionated.” That descriptor was swiftly erased and replaced with “interim CEO of OpenAI” when he took the helm of the AI developer. His bio now reads: “Interim ex-CEO of OpenAI.”
Earlier this year, Shear stepped down from Twitch to spend time with his baby son.
“I want to be fully there for my son as he enters this world and I feel ready for this change to tackle new challenges,” he said at the time.
He took the job at ChatGPT developer OpenAI—a gig he labeled a “once in a lifetime opportunity”—after his predecessor was ousted from the firm over apparent friction with its board of directors.
Responding to a question on X at the time, Shear said he had been made OpenAI’s CEO “rapidly and unexpectedly.”
Despite being thrust into the position so quickly, Shear had already outlined a three-point plan for his first 30 days at OpenAI, which included launching an investigation into what went wrong at the company, engaging with employees, investors and customers, and reshaping company governance.
It is unclear what Shear’s next career move will be now that he has handed the OpenAI reins back to Altman.
Sam Altman reinstated as OpenAI CEO
Late Tuesday night, OpenAI announced that Altman was to be reinstated as CEO and that the company’s board would be almost entirely replaced with new members including ex-U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor.
The latest move in the short-lived saga followed widespread speculation that Altman could return to lead the company he co-founded after OpenAI employees and investors pushed back against his unceremonious sacking.
OpenAI president Greg Brockman quit alongside him in an apparent show of solidarity, while board member Ilya Sustkever publicly lamented his role in having Altman fired.
It was also widely reported that Mira Murati—OpenAI’s chief technology officer who briefly held the CEO position between Altman being ousted and Shear being hired—was planning to rehire both Altman and Brockman in some capacity.
In the few days between his dismissal from OpenAI and his return, Altman was onboarded by Microsoft—a major investor in OpenAI—to lead its new in-house AI division.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a post on X on Tuesday night that the tech giant was “encouraged” by the changes that had been made to OpenAI’s board of directors.
“We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance,” he wrote. “Sam, Greg, and I have talked and agreed they have a key role to play along with the OAI leadership team in ensuring OAI continues to thrive and build on its mission.”
Altman, meanwhile, wrote on X on Tuesday night that he “loves OpenAI.”
“Everything I’ve done over the past few days has been in service of keeping this team and its mission together,” he said. “When I decided to join [Microsoft] on Sunday evening, it was clear that was the best path for me and the team. With the new board and with Satya’s support, I’m looking forward to returning to OpenAI, and building on our strong partnership with Microsoft.”