Stability AI founder Emad Mostaque plans to step down as CEO, sources say
Stability AI founder Emad Mostaque plans to step down as CEO, sources say

Stability AI founder Emad Mostaque plans to step down as CEO of the generative AI startup, Forbes has learned.

Mostaque revealed the plans privately to industry colleagues earlier this week at the Abundance360 conference in Los Angeles, where he was a speaker, according to three people he told directly. Stability, the company known for the Stable Diffusion image generator, has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Following the publication, Stability issued a press release confirming Mostake’s resignation. Chief operating officer Shan Shan Wong and chief technology officer Christian Lafort were named interim co-CEOs, and the board of directors said it was conducting a search for a new permanent CEO. Mostake also gave up his seat on the board. It will now pursue “decentralized AI,” the press release said, without further details.

Mostaque’s decision to abdicate as CEO of the company he founded follows a wave of employee discontent that reached a new peak this month with the departure of key researchers behind Stability’s most popular offering, the text-to-image generator Stable Diffusion. That week, Tyler Saltzman, who led the strategic partnership, also resigned. Five people familiar with the matter suggested yes Forbes that his decision was dictated by frustration with Stability’s failed commercialization efforts. They said he plans to start his own company tentatively called “Edge.” Saltzman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Multiple sources are available Forbes that Mostaque may intend to help Saltsman with Edge after stepping down as CEO of Stability. Two sources who spoke with Mostaque at the conference said he also wants to work on AI-related efforts in healthcare.

Do you have any advice for us? Contact reporters Kenrick Cai at [email protected] or 415-570-9972 at Signal and Iain Martin at [email protected].

Since the fall, both Stability’s executives and investors, including venture capital firms Coatue and Lightspeed Venture Partners, have called on Mostaque to step down from his role as CEO, according to four people familiar with the matter. A number of executives have since left the company, including chief people officer Özden Onder, general counsel Adam Avrunin and Joe Penna, vice president of applied machine learning. (Executives could not be reached for comment.)

Mostaque emerged as a key figure in the AI ​​sector just as the space was gaining buzz, thanks to the viral success of Stable Diffusion. But his image has been tarnished by accusations of exaggeration and overstatement—about his academic background, Stability AI’s involvement in the development of Stable Diffusion, and industrial power—as Forbes first reported last year. Still, Mostaque managed to raise more than $100 million at a $1 billion valuation for Stability AI.

But within a year, Stability was quickly running out of money. As of October 2023, it was burning through about $8 million a month, Bloomberg previously reported. Attempts to raise additional funds at a $4 billion valuation have largely been unsuccessful, sources said Forbes last year.

However, Mostaque put on a brave face to the public. “Our goal is to be cash flow positive this year,” he wrote on Reddit in February. And even at the conference, he described his planned resignation as the culmination of a successful mission, according to one person familiar with the matter.


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