Sam Altman returns as CEO of Open AI 0:48

(CNN) -- 

Elon Musk sued OpenAI and its CEO, Sam Altman, saying the company behind ChatGPT has deviated from its original nonprofit mission by partnering with Microsoft for $13 billion and keeping the code for its new generative artificial intelligence products.

Musk, who co-founded OpenAI in 2015, left and formed his own artificial intelligence company, xAI.

His complaint, filed Thursday in California state court, said the company and its partnership with Microsoft violated OpenAI's founding statutes, amounting to a breach of contract.

Musk is asking for a jury trial and for the company, Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman to return the profits they received from that business.

OpenAI was born as a monitoring mechanism for what the co-founders believed was a serious threat that artificial generative intelligence, or AGI, posed to humanity.

The company created a board of overseers to review any products it created, and the code for its products was made public.

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But Altman, Brockman and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever in 2019 formed OpenAI LP, a for-profit entity that exists within the structure of a larger company.

That for-profit company took OpenAI from worthless to a $90 billion valuation in just a few years, and Altman is largely credited with being the brains behind that plan and the key to the company's success. company.

OpenAI has not yet responded to CNN's request for comment on the issue.


The lawsuit also cites a high-profile leadership crisis last year, which led to Altman's temporary ouster from the company, apparently due to several board members' concerns about the risks of artificial intelligence.

After days of uncertainty and an intervention from Microsoft, Altman regained his position in what industry analysts said was a victory for those seeking to commercialize artificial intelligence technology.

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla and owner of X, formerly known as Twitter, attends the Viva Technology conference in Paris on June 16.

(Credit: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters)

Thursday's lawsuit repeats that claim.

"The public still does not know what exactly the board's 'deliberative review process' revealed that resulted in Mr. Altman's initial termination," the complaint says.

"However, one thing is clear to Mr. Musk and the public at large: OpenAI has abandoned its 'irrevocable' nonprofit mission in favor of profit."

Although Microsoft, which has invested billions of dollars in OpenAI and has close collaboration with the startup, is not named as a defendant in Musk's lawsuit, the tech giant is listed 68 times in the complaint.

Much of the lawsuit questions Microsoft's apparent influence over OpenAI and Microsoft's financial position.

Musk previously threatened to sue Microsoft and accused the company of stealing content from X, Musk's social media company, to train Microsoft's artificial intelligence tools.

"OpenAI, Inc. has transformed itself into a de facto closed-source subsidiary of the world's largest technology company: Microsoft," Thursday's lawsuit says.

"Under his new board, he is not only developing but actually refining an AGI to maximize Microsoft's profits."

Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, left OpenAI in 2018. Since then, he has denounced the dangers of artificial intelligence.

In the complaint, he accused OpenAI's current leaders of being greedy.

"While some, like Mr. Musk, see an existential threat in AGI, others see it as a source of profit and power," the complaint states.

This story has been updated with additional context from the complaint.

Elon MuskOpenAIsam altman