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Stability AI founder Emad Mostaque has announced his plans to step down as CEO of the generative AI startup, according to sources at the Abundance360 conference in Los Angeles. The company, known for its image generator Stable Diffusion, has since confirmed Mostaque’s resignation in a press release, appointing Shan Shan Wong and Christian Laforte as interim co-CEOs. Mostaque will now focus on “decentralized AI,” although specific details were not provided.

The decision to step down comes amidst employee discontent and the departure of key researchers and executives, including the head of strategic partnerships, Tyler Saltsman. Sources suggest that Saltsman’s resignation was driven by frustrations over Stability’s commercialization efforts and he plans to start his own company named “Edge.” There are indications that Mostaque may assist Saltsman with Edge after leaving Stability, as well as explore AI-related projects in the healthcare sector.

Executives and investors have reportedly called on Mostaque to relinquish his CEO role since the fall, as the company faced financial challenges. Despite raising over $100 million at a $1 billion valuation, Stability was burning through $8 million a month as of October 2023. Attempts to raise additional funds at a $4 billion valuation have not been successful, leading to concerns about the company’s financial stability.

Mostaque has faced criticism for exaggerating his academic background, Stability AI’s involvement in developing Stable Diffusion, and industry expertise. However, he has remained optimistic about the company’s prospects, stating a goal of becoming cash flow positive this year. His planned resignation has been described as the successful culmination of his mission, according to sources.

As Mostaque prepares to leave Stability AI, the company will be led by interim co-CEOs while a search for a permanent CEO is conducted. Mostaque’s decision to focus on decentralized AI and potentially assist Saltsman with Edge points to his continued interest in the artificial intelligence sector. The departure of key executives and the company’s financial challenges will undoubtedly impact Stability’s future direction and prospects in the competitive AI market.

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