Emmett Shear, co-founder and former CEO of Twitch, has been appointed as the interim CEO of OpenAI, succeeding Sam Altman who was ousted in a surprising turn of events. Shear, known for transforming Twitch into a leading live streaming platform before its acquisition by Amazon, brings a wealth of experience in tech entrepreneurship to OpenAI. His appointment marks a significant shift in the leadership of one of the AI industry’s most influential companies, particularly following Altman’s departure under contentious circumstances.
Emmett Shear, born in 1983, is currently the interim CEO of OpenAI, appointed on November 19, 2023, following the departure of former CEO Sam Altman. Shear, known for his entrepreneurial and investing activities, co-founded Twitch, originally part of Justin.tv, and served as its CEO until March 2023. He grew up in Seattle, meeting future co-founder Justin Kan in childhood, and later graduated from Yale University with a computer science degree. His career began with Kan at Y Combinator, where they developed Kiko, sold on eBay for $250,000. Shear transformed Justin.tv into Twitch, a leading live video platform, which was acquired by Amazon for $970 million in 2014. Additionally, he engaged in philanthropy, notably donating $1 million through Twitch during the COVID-19 pandemic for a food delivery initiative in San Francisco.
Shear’s unexpected entry into OpenAI’s leadership comes at a critical juncture, given the company’s prominence in the AI sector, especially with its widely recognized ChatGPT. As he steps into his new role, Shear emphasizes his commitment to the company’s mission and expresses concerns about the future impact of AI on civilization. With his background in tech innovation and venture capital, he is expected to steer OpenAI through a period of significant changes and challenges.
Moreover, Shear’s approach to this new role includes a 30-day plan focusing on internal investigations, employee and partner communications, and management restructuring. This plan aims to stabilize OpenAI and address concerns arising from recent upheavals. Microsoft, a key investor and partner, reaffirms its commitment to OpenAI under Shear’s leadership, indicating continued collaboration in AI advancements. As Shear navigates these changes, the AI community watches closely, anticipating how his leadership will influence OpenAI’s trajectory in a rapidly evolving AI landscape.