OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutskever says he will leave the startup


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Sam Altman (L), US entrepreneur, investor, programmer, and founder and CEO of artificial intelligence company OpenAI, and the company’s co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, speak together at Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv on June 5, 2023.
Jack Guez | Afp | Getty Images

OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutskever said Tuesday that he’s leaving the Microsoft-backed startup.

“I am excited for what comes next — a project that is very personally meaningful to me about which I will share details in due time,” Sutskever wrote in an X post on Tuesday.

The departure comes after OpenAI went through a leadership crisis in November involving co-founder and CEO Sam Altman.

In November, OpenAI’s board ousted Altman, prompting resignations – or threats of resignations – including an open letter signed by virtually all of OpenAI’s employees, and uproar from investors, including Microsoft. Within a week, Altman was back at the company, and board members Helen Toner, Tasha McCauley and Ilya Sutskever, who had voted to oust Altman, were out. Adam D’Angelo, who had also voted to push out Altman, stayed on the board.

When Altman was asked about Sutskever’s status on the Zoom call with reporters, he said there were no updates to share.

“I love Ilya… I hope we work together for the rest of our careers, my career, whatever,” Altman said. “Nothing to announce today.”

On Tuesday, Altman shared his thoughts as Sutskever leaves.

“This is very sad to me; Ilya is easily one of the greatest minds of our generation, a guiding light of our field, and a dear friend,” Altman wrote on X. “His brilliance and vision are well known; his warmth and compassion are less well known but no less important.” Altman said research director Jakub Pachocki, who has been at OpenAI since 2017, will replace Sutskever as chief scientist.

OpenAI has announced new board members, including former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. Microsoft obtained a nonvoting board observer position.

In March, OpenAI announced its new board and the wrap-up of an internal investigation by U.S. law firm WilmerHale into the events leading up to Altman’s ouster. Altman rejoined OpenAI’s board, and three new board members were announced: Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann, former CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Nicole Seligman, former EVP and Global General Counsel of Sony and President of Sony Entertainment; and Fidji Simo, CEO and Chair of Instacart.

The three new members will “work closely with current board members Adam D’Angelo, Larry Summers and Bret Taylor as well as Greg, Sam, and OpenAI’s senior management,” according to a company release in March.

News of Sutskever’s departure comes a day after OpenAI launched a new AI model and desktop version of ChatGPT, along with an updated user interface, the company’s latest effort to expand use of its popular chatbot.

The update brings GPT-4 to everyone, including OpenAI’s free users, technology chief Mira Murati said Monday in a livestreamed event. She added that the new model, GPT-4o, is “much faster,” with improved capabilities in text, video and audio. OpenAI said it eventually plans to allow users to video chat with ChatGPT.

“This is the first time that we are really making a huge step forward when it comes to the ease of use,” Murati said.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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