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OpenAI resignations are reaching an alarming level. Here are 11 key people who have left

Cofounder Ilya Sutskever made headlines when he announced his exit, but he’s far from the only OpenAI employee to jump ship.

OpenAI resignations are reaching an alarming level. Here are 11 key people who have left
[Source photo: Ron Lach/Pexels]

The announcement this week that OpenAI cofounder Ilya Sutskever was leaving the company felt almost inevitable, given that he had headed the push resulting in the removal of Sam Altman from the CEO role for a short period six months ago. Still, his departure and his importance to the company have raised questions among onlookers about what the future of OpenAI will hold.

Sutskever was just the latest in a growing number of worker departures at the leading generative artificial intelligence company. And while his presence might have become untenable after the November revolt, many other employees who have called it quits have a much lower profile.

No one’s clear on why so many people are jumping ship. It could be philosophical differences on where the product is going. It could be lucrative job offers from competitors. Or it could simply be burnout that often accompanies working the hours and pace of a startup.

Here’s a look at some of the high-profile departures of the last few months.


Sutskever was both cofounder and chief scientist at OpenAI—and given his role in the attempted coup of Altman, it’s fuzzy on whether he was gently shown the door or left of his own accord. Altman had nothing but public praise for Sutskever, though, calling him “easily one of the greatest minds of our generation“ and adding “OpenAI would not be what it is without him.” Sutskever said on X (formerly Twitter) he plans to work next on “a project that is very personally meaningful to me about which I will share details in due time.”


Hours after Sutskever’s departure was announced, Jan Leike, a coleader in the company’s superalignment group, announced he too had resigned from the company. It was his responsibility (along with Sutskever) to ensure the company’s AI systems aligned with human interests and he had been named last year as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in AI.


A lead engineer at OpenAI, Morikawa announced his departure from the company after 3.5 years on Wednesday. He plans to start a new initiative with veterans of Boston Dynamics and DeepMind. “I think this will be necessary to fully realize AGI in the world and am excited to share more about it soon,” he wrote on Twitter/X. He seems to have left on good terms, saying in a follow-up Tweet “I’ve had the 🚀 of a lifetime at OpenAI and am extremely excited on the future there.”


A member of the safety team at OpenAI, Kokotajlo left the company in February. He has since publicly criticized OpenAI on the online forum LessWrong, saying he departed “due to losing confidence that it would behave responsibly around the time of AGI.”


Once one of the most public voices for OpenAI, Kilpatrick jumped ship to lead product for Google’s AI studio two months ago. In an interview with The Next Wave, he noted changes at the company in his time there were part of the reason for his move, noting the explosive growth changed OpenAI’s way of doing business. He also indicated there were fewer opportunities to get hands-on experience and make a significant impact as OpenAI grew.


Saunders left in February, giving up his position as a manager in the superalignment group. He declined, in LessWrong forum posts, to go into the reasons for his departure.


Aschenbrenner was another member of the superalignment team, working with Leike and Sutskever. His departure wasn’t a resignation, though. He was fired in April for allegedly leaking information to journalists, according to The Information.


Izmailov’s job was terminated at the same time as Aschenbrenner, according to The Information. Both were strong allies of Sutskever. Neither his nor Aschenbrenner’s name was on the list of staffers that showed support for Altman via a letter in the midst of Altman’s brief ouster from the company last year.


Yoon left OpenAI at the start of May, resigning her position as vice president of people. No reason was given for the departure, but Yoon was one of the longest-serving managers at the company.


Like Yoon, Clark departed OpenAI at the start of the month. He had served as head of nonprofit and strategic initiatives. His departure came a little more than six months after he posted on X “Almost 8 years at OpenAI, and I’ve never been more proud to work here. Our team remained united throughout this entire ordeal and emerged stronger than ever.”


A founding member of OpenAI, Karpathy had departed once before, but came back in February 2023. That lasted all of a year, when he left once again, though in a Tweet he said it was “not a result of any particular event, issue or drama.” His plan, he said, was to work on personal projects, perhaps an AI assistant, which has been a passion project of his.

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Chris Morris is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience. Learn more at chrismorrisjournalist.com. More

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