Second AI company in “civil war” over leadership

A week after Sam Altman was victorious in a power battle with ChatGPT maker OpenAI, the chief executive of another artificial intelligence (AI), start-up faces pressure to resign.

One of the shareholders of Stability AI has urged Emad Mostaque to resign as its founder and CEO.

In October, the New York-based Coatue Management fund, which had invested in Stability last fall, sent a letter to the company requesting that Mr Mostaque step down.

Coatue has reportedly claimed that Mr Mostaque oversaw a chaotic workplace culture which led to the departure of several leaders.

Stability lost its head of the audio division after the letter, amid a dispute over the way it handled copyright.

Ed Newton-Rex left after disagreements over the use of artists’ work without payment. He claimed that AI companies “exploited creators” when they used their works to train generative models.

Stability has claimed that its copyright approach is “an acceptable and transformative use of content protected by fair-use that benefits society”.

A spokesperson said that the company was still founder-controlled and Coatue only held a minor stake. This suggests the letter will not lead to any changes.

Stability’s spokesman said that the recent investment “underscores confidence of investors”. The company raised $50m last month from chip giant Intel.

Stability is best known for Stable Diffusion, a popular AI-based image generator. The tool is able to generate images based on text prompts.

Getty Images, a photography giant, has sued the company for violating copyright. The lawsuit should be dismissed because of stability.

The news of the split between Coatue, Stability and OpenAI comes just days after Stability’s US rival OpenAI was embroiled in a -style civil war.

OpenAI board members ousted Sam Altman as its co-founder, chief executive and president a little more than a week before he made a dramatic comeback with the support from key shareholders and hundreds staff.

Rishi Sunak, a world leader who has called for a tighter regulatory framework in the AI sector, was among those calling on the tumultuous events at OpenAI to raise questions about the governance of AI startups.

Separately Stability confirmed it was approached by rivals regarding a possible takeover or merger, but claimed it had rejected the approaches.

A spokesperson said: “While we have received interest from several parties in purchasing Stability, Stability is not for sale. We are focused on the release of leading models.”

Coatue’s spokesperson declined to comment.