OpenAI is bringing in the former head of Twitch as interim CEO just days after the company ousted its high-profile leader Sam Altman, sparking unrest in the AI world.
Emmett Shear announced his new role Monday morning in a post on -harmed intelligence company.
When Altman was abruptly fired, OpenAI said an internal investigation found the 38-year-old “was not consistently candid in his communications” with the board of directors. The company did not provide more details, leaving industry analysts and tech watchers reading tea leaves in an attempt to figure out what happened.
Meanwhile, Microsoft, which has invested billions in the AI company, said Monday it was bringing in Altman and former OpenAI president Greg Brockman — who resigned in protest after Altman’s ouster — to lead the tech giant’s new advanced AI research team.
At OpenAI, Shear has promised to shed some light on Altman’s departure. In his X-post, he promised to hire an independent investigator to investigate what led to Altman’s ouster and to write a report within 30 days.
Shear, 40, is the co-founder of the Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch, a social media site best known for its gaming.
Twitch was originally part of the streaming video site Justin.tv, which was founded in 2006 by Shear and three other tech entrepreneurs. In 2011, the focus shifted to gaming, a move that made the platform a growing phenomenon and a plethora of well-known streamers. Three years later, Amazon bought the company for about $970 million in cash.
Twitch doesn’t get as much media attention as other social media companies, but it has been the subject of scrutiny twice in recent years when mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Germany were broadcast live on its platform.
Shear left the company in March. He said this was due to the birth of his now 9-month-old son.
After leaving Twitch, Shear became a visiting partner at Y Combinator, a startup incubator that launched Airbnb, DoorDash and Dropbox. Both Altman and Shear know each other as the original batchmates at Y Combinator, where Altman previously served as president.
In his LinkedIn profile, Shear says he has “been starting, growing and running businesses since college” and has no “plans of returning anytime soon.” He graduated from Yale University in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science.
OpenAI initially named its Chief Technology Officer, Mira Murati, as interim CEO on Friday. But she turned out to be one of the signatories of a letter circulated early Monday — and signed by hundreds of other OpenAI employees — calling for the board’s resignation and Altman’s return.
The AP could not independently confirm that all signatures came from OpenAI employees. An OpenAI spokesperson confirmed that the board had received the letter, which also stated that the board had replaced Murati against the company’s best interests.
In his post on He said the company’s board “shared the situation with him” and asked him for the role. He quickly agreed.
“I took this job because I believe OpenAI is one of the most important companies in existence today,” he wrote.
Shear said he spent most of Sunday “drinking as much from the firehose as he could” while speaking with OpenAI’s board, employees and a small number of partners.
Investors, in turn, are trying to stabilize the situation. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella weighed in early Monday morning in a post on
In his post on X, Shear said he checked the reasoning behind the changes at OpenAI before taking the job.
“The board did not remove (asterisk) Sam because of a specific disagreement over safety, their reasoning was completely different,” he wrote.
“I’m not crazy enough to take this job without board support for commercializing our amazing models,” he said, referring to the company’s popular AI tools such as ChatGPT and the image generator DALL-E.
“I have nothing but respect for what Sam and the entire OpenAI team have built,” he said. “It is not only an incredible research project and software product, but an incredible company. I’m here because I know that, and I want to do everything I can to protect it and keep it growing.”
Shear said he wants to accomplish three things within the next 30 days.
In addition to hiring an independent investigator who will “generate a full report” on what happened, Shear said he wants to continue talking to stakeholders and reshape the company’s management and leadership teams in light of the recent departures.
He then said he will “drive change in the organization – up to and including strongly pushing for significant changes to the board, if necessary.”
“The stability and success of OpenAI are too important to be disrupted in this way by unrest,” he said.
On a podcast in June, Shear said he is generally optimistic about technology, but has serious concerns about the path artificial intelligence will take to building something “much smarter than us” that sets itself a goal that will endangers people. As an engineer, he said his approach would be to build AI systems on a small and gradual scale.
“If there is a world where we survive… where we build an AI that is smarter than humans and it survives, it will be because we built smaller AIs, and we actually had as many smart people as possible working on them. that, and taking the problem seriously,” Shear said in June.
AP reporter Matt O’Brien contributed to this report from Providence, Rhode Island.