Late on Sunday, the board of directors of OpenAI named Emmett Shear, the former CEO of Twitch, as the company’s acting CEO following a turbulent weekend. After CEO Sam Altman was fired on Friday, the AI business saw a series of turbulent changes, including the appointment of Shear. Many were concerned about Shear’s potential as CEO, the logic behind the board’s decision, and what extent he would alter Altman.
Shear was one of the four cofounders of the 2006-launched website Justin.tv. With millions of streamers each month, Twitch quickly established itself as the most popular platform for video game streaming once the website transferred its gaming content there in June 2011. 2014 saw Amazon purchase the business for $1 billion (about $3 per person in the US).
One senior Twitch staffer, who worked with Shear for several years and spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t allowed to speak to the media, describes him as a typical Silicon Valley engineer type. Highly intelligent but awkward around others. The top Twitch staffer claims that Shear wasn’t the greatest communicator and that having a large network of knowledgeable individuals around him benefited. He might be direct, they say.
Additionally, according to the former Twitch staffer, Shear was a quirky person who sometimes spoke without thinking and spoke from the heart. The former employee claims to have witnessed Shear playing Hearthstone on his phone during a presentation rather than paying focus to the topic at hand.
Shear Was Chosen By the OpenAI board:
Shear was chosen by the OpenAI board, and since then, a number of his older X posts have been circulated on social media. In one, he talked about how common rape fantasies are, and in another, he suggests that although the Nazis were a terrible people, there are worse things than a Nazi takeover. When asked for comment, Shear did not answer right away.
Silicon Valley was taken aback by Shear’s nomination as CEO of OpenAI, mainly because there had been rumors that Altman may be renewed in the hours preceding the announcement. Concerns were raised concerning Shear’s managerial skills at OpenAI and what his history at Twitch would suggest. Chief technical officer Mira Murati of OpenAI, who was named acting CEO on Friday, had been hired for a single weekend. Her name was at the head of a list of over 500 OpenAI workers who called for the board’s resignation on Monday.
Skeptical is me. The writer of One Up, a book about the global gaming industry and management professor at New York University Joost van Dreunen, contends that if Twitch is a sign of things to come in AI, we could expect a lot of opaque policies and lost chances.
Despite its management, Twitch has almost succeeded. The platform prioritizes monetization over ecosystem investment, maintaining a poor level of integration with parent company Amazon, and communicates poorly with industry partners and content providers. Concerns about how AI develops moving forward should be raised by such tenure.
Shear does, however, possess certain qualities that the former Twitch staff member claims make him a strong match for the position. They claim that switching to OpenAI makes a lot of sense. For him, Twitch was a platform for creators that existed for the good of people; democratizing TV was more important to them than making money. He has a strong ethical foundation.
Cofounder of Xobni, an email software that was a part of the Y Combinator community just like Twitch, Adam Smith explains Emmett is highly recommended by me as someone I’d like to collaborate with in the future, even though I disagree with some of his previous statements regarding the risk associated with AI. He’s one of the sharpest individuals I know, has a real curiosity about everything, and is a wonderful person.