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OpenAI executive is out after key role in CEO Sam Altman’s ouster

OpenAI’s co-founder and chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, who played a pivotal role in the turbulent events leading to CEO Sam Altman’s temporary removal from the company last November, announced his departure from OpenAI on Tuesday.

“After nearly a decade, I have decided to part ways with OpenAI,” Sutskever shared in a social media post. “I am eager for the journey ahead — a project that holds deep personal significance to me, details of which I will reveal in due course.”

Sutskever’s involvement in the high-profile dismissal and subsequent reinstatement of CEO Sam Altman last year underscored a management crisis that ultimately seemed to solidify Altman’s position as a leader in the rapidly evolving field of artificial intelligence.

The news of Sutskever’s exit comes on the heels of OpenAI’s recent unveiling of its latest AI model, GPT-4o, which garnered praise for its impressive capabilities.

To fill Sutskever’s shoes, Jakub Pachocki, formerly the company’s director of research, will step into the role, according to OpenAI.

Sutskever made waves approximately six months ago when he voted in favor of removing Altman as CEO and board chairman. CNN contributor Kara Swisher previously reported that Sutskever’s decision stemmed from concerns that Altman had propelled AI technology “too far, too fast.”

However, just days after Altman’s removal, Sutskever had a change of heart: he endorsed an employee letter demanding the entire board’s resignation and Altman’s reinstatement.

Altman’s return was swift. Just five days after his dismissal, he reclaimed his position as CEO, and Sutskever publicly expressed remorse for his involvement in the corporate upheaval.

“I deeply regret my role in the board’s actions,” Sutskever penned in a statement on X in November. “I never intended to harm OpenAI. I cherish everything we’ve built together, and I am committed to reconciling the company.”

In the ensuing months, OpenAI has continued to push boundaries with its flagship product, ChatGPT. Its latest iteration, unveiled on Monday, will be accessible to unpaid users and promises to transform ChatGPT into a digital assistant capable of engaging in real-time spoken interactions.

Sutskever played a significant role in OpenAI’s ascent within the AI landscape. Alongside Altman and Greg Brockman, he co-founded OpenAI LP, a for-profit entity under the larger nonprofit organization’s umbrella, in 2019. In subsequent years, the company garnered a valuation of $90 billion.

In response to Sutskever’s departure, Altman expressed deep sadness, stating, “I am forever grateful for his contributions to OpenAI and remain dedicated to fulfilling the mission we embarked on together.”

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