Who is Emmett Shear? New interim CEO of OpenAI

An American internet entrepreneur and investor, Shear previously lent his insights as a part-time collaborator at the venture capital hub Y Combinat

Who is Emmett Shear? New interim CEO of OpenAI
Image / Emmett Shear

Emmett Shear, born 1983, steps into the CEO role at OpenAI from November 19, 2023, swiftly succeeding the ousting of former CEO Sam Altman just a brief 48 hours earlier. Preceding this, Shear occupied the chief executive officer post at Twitch until March 2023, stemming from its roots as Justin Tv, a live video platform. An American internet entrepreneur and investor, Shear previously lent his insights as a part-time collaborator at the venture capital hub Y Combinator.

Early Life and Education

Hailing from Seattle, Shear attended the Evergreen School for Gifted Children, where fate intertwined him with future co-founder Justin Kan at a mere age of 8. Their camaraderie deepened through swift-paced math classes and shared Magic: The Gathering games.

In 2005, Shear, alongside Kan and eventual co-founder Michael Siebel, bagged a Bachelor of Science in computer science from Yale University.


Y Combinator

As seniors in 2005, Shear and Kan angled for entry into Y Combinator's debut class. Their venture, a calendar app dubbed Kiko, changed hands on eBay for $250,000 post the introduction of Google Calendar.

Justin TV
In 2006, in cahoots with Michael Seibel and Kyle Vogt, Shear and Kan launched Justin Tv - a 24/7 live video feed chronicling Kan's daily exploits via a webcam snug on his noggin.
While Kan's "lifecasting" endured eight months, the squad pivoted towards furnishing a platform for live video streaming. Launched in 2007, Justin.tv soared as one of the globe's premier live video platforms until its curtain call on August 5, 2014. On August 29, 2011, Shear assumed the CEO position for the rebranded entity.

Following the 2007 liftoff of Justin.tv, the platform diversified into content domains, with Gaming reigning supreme. In June 2011, the call to bifurcate gaming content birthed TwitchTV, officially debuting in public beta on June 6, 2011. Amazon's wallet unveiled $970 million for Twitch on August 25, 2014.

On March 2023, Shear broadcasted his CEO resignation, signaling the ascendancy of Daniel J. Clancy.

Investor Activities
In June 2011, Shear hitched a ride to Y Combinator as a part-time partner, furnishing sagacity to nascent startups.

November 19, 2023, marked Shear's ingress into the CEO domain at OpenAI, filling the vacuum post Sam Altman's board-directed exit.

Depending on the results everything we learn from these, I will drive changes in the organization — up to and including pushing strongly for significant governance changes if necessary. I will be rolling these out as they become clear over the 30-day period. OpenAI’s stability and success are too important to allow turmoil to disrupt them like this. I will endeavor to address the key concerns as well, although in many cases I believe it may take longer than a month to achieve true progress.

I have nothing but respect for what Sam and the entire OpenAI team have built. It’s not just an incredible research project and software product, but an incredible company. I’m here because I know that, and I want to do everything in my power to protect it and grow it further. Stated By Emmett Shear.

Publicly voicing concerns about AI's societal impact, Shear pegs his "P(Doom)"—probability of doom—in a bandwidth of 2 to 50 percent.

Shear said (as quoted by the Wall Street Journal): “It’s like a universe destroying bomb…It’s bad in a way that makes global warming not a problem."


During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Shear, via Twitch, propelled SF New Deal with an inaugural $1 million, steering nourishment from San Fran eateries to the needy. This initiative, spearheaded by Yale compatriot Leonore Estrada of Three Babes Bakeshop fame, touched down in the Bayview neighborhood.