Friday, June 14, 2024

OpenAI hires Irish tech executive as new chief financial officer

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OpenAI has hired Sarah Friar, the Irish former chief executive of neighbourhood social networking service Nextdoor, to serve as its chief financial officer, a role that has gone unfilled at the fast-growing artificial intelligence (AI) start-up for two years.

Ms Friar who comes from Sion Mills, Co Tyrone, also sits on the board of Walmart and was previously chief financial officer at financial tech company Square. She will help OpenAI continue to invest in AI research while growing its global business, the start-up said.

The ChatGPT maker has also named Kevin Weil as its new chief product officer. Weil previously steered product development at Instagram and Twitter as an executive at those companies.

The expanded C-suite comes at an important moment for OpenAI.

The company is working to boost revenue from its AI products by selling services to enterprise customers while also adding features such as enhanced voice capabilities to its consumer chatbot app.

OpenAI has also begun training a more powerful AI model that could help it stay ahead of a growing number of well-funded rivals who are vying for the same users and businesses.

“Sarah and Kevin bring a depth of experience that will enable OpenAI to scale our operations, set a strategy for the next phase of growth and ensure that our teams have the resources they need to continue to thrive,” said OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman in a draft of a blog post announcing the hires.

Weil, formerly the president of product and business at satellite image services company Planet Labs PBC, will lead a product team devoted to applying OpenAI’s research work to serve the company’s consumer and enterprise users.

OpenAI’s leadership is currently facing renewed concerns that it prioritised commercialising AI over ensuring its safety. The start-up dissolved a high-profile safety group that was focused on addressing long-term risks of AI.

It has also been hit by a series of departures from employees on safety-related teams. OpenAI, for its part, has stressed its commitment to developing AI safely and responsibly.

“The product team at OpenAI has set the pace for both breakthrough innovation and thoughtful deployment of AI products,” Weil said in a statement. “I am thrilled to be part of the next phase of growth, as we continue to safely and responsibly build towards AGI,” he said, referring to a hypothetical form of AI that can outperform humans on many tasks. – Bloomberg

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