OpenAI’s co-founder, Ilya Sutskever, said on Tuesday (14 May) that he would be leaving the Microsoft-backed startup. 

Writing on X about his departure, Sutskever said: “I am excited for what comes next — a project that is very personally meaningful to me about which I will share details in due time.”

Sutskever, who was also chief scientist at the company, played a vital role in the controversial firing and rehiring of OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman in November 2023. 

The co-founder was on the board of directors which reportedly helped orchestrate the firing of Altman. However, days later Sutskever backtracked on his decision and signed a letter calling for Altman’s rehiring. 

Upon Altman’s return, Sutskever was removed from the board of directors and his position in the company remained unclear. According to reports, Sutskever had not been seen at any of the company’s daily operations for the past several months. 

Following the announcement of Sutskever’s departure, Altman shared that the news was “very sad” and hailed the co-founder as “one of the greatest minds of our generation”.

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“This is very sad to me; Ilya is easily one of the greatest minds of our generation, a guiding light of our field, and a dear friend,” Altman wrote on X. 

“His brilliance and vision are well known; his warmth and compassion are less well known but no less important,” Altman added. 

Research director Jakub Pachocki will replace Sutskever as chief scientist, according to Altman.