OpenAI hires former Twitch boss Emmett Shear as CEO

Emmett Shear, former CEO of Twitch, in a Bloomberg Television interview in San Francisco, California, U.S., Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

OpenAI is bringing in former Twitch chief Emmett Shear to run the artificial intelligence company, two days after the sudden ouster of Sam Altman, CNBC has confirmed.

The hiring of Shear is the latest twist in a chaotic weekend at one of the most high-profile startups on the planet. OpenAI’s board announced late Friday that it was removing Altman and replacing him on an interim basis with chief technology officer Mira Murati. The Post said Altman “was not consistently honest in his communications with the board.”

The Information and Bloomberg both reported on the hiring of Shear earlier. The news was confirmed to CNBC by a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the discussions were confidential. A spokesperson for OpenAI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shortly after the board’s announcement on Friday, a group of prominent investors including Microsoft, Tiger Global, Thrive Capital and Sequoia Capital began working to reverse the move. None of these companies have board seats, and they were caught unawares by the board’s decision.

In a post on X, formerly of Twitter, late Saturday night, Altman wrote, “I love the openai team so much.” Murati was one of many OpenAI employees who replied with a heart sign.

OpenAI, which was reportedly in talks as recently as last month to sell employee shares to investors at a valuation of $86 billion, emerged as a household name this year after releasing its ChatGPT chatbot in late 2022. ChatGPT allows users to enter simple text queries and retrieve smart-sounding responses that can lead to more in-depth conversations.

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Altman had led the company since 2019, serving both as the top executive of a high-flying company and as the public face of artificial intelligence research and product development.

Unlike most Silicon Valley startups, OpenAI was not structured like a typical company with large chunks of equity controlled by the founders. Rather, it was part of a nonprofit started in 2015. The board oversees the nonprofit, which “serves as the overall governing body for all OpenAI activities,” according to Friday’s blog post.

Shear stepped down as CEO of Twitch, the live streaming service now owned by Amazon, in March. Shear co-founded, a predecessor to Twitch, in 2007. He has also been a part-time partner at startup accelerator Y Combinator, which Altman ran before joining OpenAI.

— CNBC’s Ari Levy contributed to this report

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