Former Twitch Chief Executive Emmett Shear will become interim CEO of OpenAI, according to an internal company message on Sunday.
Shear confirmed on X that he had accepted the role, writing “I did not make the decision lightly. Ultimately I felt that I had a duty to help if I could.”
The news comes after negotiations aimed at bringing back former CEO Sam Altman, who was fired by the board on Friday, broke down over the composition of a potential new board, people familiar with the matter said. Shear has warned about the dangers AI can pose, aligning him with concerns of some of OpenAI’s directors.
People close to Altman say he plans to launch a new venture that may compete directly with OpenAI. Altman plans to partner with Greg Brockman, the former president of the company who resigned in protest after Altman was pushed out.
Altman and a spokesperson for OpenAI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Soon after Altman was ousted, investors and partners like Microsoft began working to contain the situation. Altman and the board negotiated into Sunday evening in an attempt to hash out a solution that would have likely included the ouster of the board.
As late as 5 p.m. on the West Coast on Sunday, there was still hope that Altman might return to the company, according to people familiar with the matter. But the negotiations broke down later that evening.
The Information first reported Shear’s appointment.
Shear stepped down as CEO of Twitch in March after more than a decade in the role, saying he wanted to “be fully there for my son as he enters this world.”
He appears to share some of the same concerns about AI safety as OpenAI Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever, one of the board members who voted to remove Altman. In a podcast interview in September, he said it was possible that AI could one day kill humanity, but he acknowledged that scenario would only become possible something like 1,000 years in the future.
He said that the issue with AI is that it poses an abstract threat, as opposed to something like a pandemic, where the risks are very concrete. “It’s scary enough that I urgently urge action on the issue,” Shear said. “I think it’s going to be okay. But the downside is probably worse than nuclear war.”