OpenAI is in “intense discussions” to unify its divided staff, Vice President of Global Affairs Anna Makanju wrote late Monday in an internal memo reviewed by Bloomberg News.
Makanju aimed the message at employees who have grown anxious after days of tumult following the ouster of Chief Executive Officer Sam Altman and the board’s surprise appointment of former Twitch chief Emmett Shear as his interim replacement.
Read More: What We Know So Far About Why OpenAI Fired Sam Altman
Company management is in touch with Altman, Shear and the company’s board, “but they are not prepared to give us a final response this evening,” Makanju wrote.
Earlier on Monday, most of the staff signed a letter saying they would quit if the board does not resign and re-hire Altman, who was hired by Microsoft Corp., OpenAI’s largest shareholder, to run a new artificial intelligence team.
The memo from Makanju doesn’t elaborate on the extent of staff contact with Altman, and the former CEO didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment outside regular business hours.
There’s strong momentum outside OpenAI to get Altman reinstated too. OpenAI’s other investors, led by Thrive Capital, are actively trying to orchestrate his return, people with knowledge of the effort told Bloomberg earlier Monday, and even Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said he wouldn’t oppose Altman’s reinstatement. Microsoft, which has pledged to invest as much as $13 billion in OpenAI, benefits whether Altman is running OpenAI or working under its roof, Nadella said.
Read More: OpenAI CEO Sam Altman Is Pushing Past Doubts on Artificial Intelligence
Until Friday, when Altman was fired, the company’s board consisted of: Altman, President Greg Brockman, Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever, Quora Inc. CEO Adam D’Angelo, tech entrepreneur Tasha McCauley and Helen Toner, director of strategy at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology. After Altman’s exit, Brockman stepped down in protest.
“We are continuing to go over mutually acceptable options and are scheduled to speak again tomorrow morning when everyone’s had a little more sleep,” Makanju wrote. “These intense discussions can drag out, and I know it can feel impossible to be patient.”
She added a word of reassurance for employees: “Know that we have a plan that we are working towards.”