Co Tyrone native and tech expert Sarah Friar has been appointed as the new chief financial officer (CFO) of OpenAI.

Friar, the former chief executive of neighbourhood social networking service Nextdoor Holdings Inc, is taking on the role which has gone unfilled at the US artificial intelligence (AI) start-up for two years.

OpenAI is most commonly know for its creation of the ChatGPT service – a chatbot that can capably interact with the world using audio, images and text. ChatGPT can generate almost any form of information simply by “asking” a prompt question or statement.

Friar, who is originally from Sion Mills near Strabane, is an Oxford graduate with a Stanford MBA.

Now in her 50s, she was a research analyst at investment banking firm Goldman Sachs, before leaving to join Salesforce, then Jack Dorsey’s payments company Square as chief financial officer.

She later joined local networking app Nextdoor.

Her net worth in 2021 was estimated at $265m.

OpenAI has also named Kevin Weil as its new chief product officer.

“Sarah and Kevin bring a depth of experience that will enable OpenAI to scale our operations, set a strategy for the next phase of growth, and ensure that our teams have the resources they need to continue to thrive,” said OpenAI chief executive officer Sam Altman, in a draft of a blog post announcing the hires, seen by Bloomberg on Monday.

Friar, who also sits on the board of Walmart and Consensys, will support core research capabilities and scale operations to help meet the demands of OpenAI’s growing customer base and complex global environment.

The NI woman is also a fellow of the Aspen Institute, and co-Chair of the Stanford Digital Economy Lab.

“I’m honoured to join a team that is uniquely talented and mission-focused,” she said.

“My goal is to help OpenAI continue excelling at what it does best—producing top-tier research and collaborating to maximize the benefits of AI tools for everyone.”

OpenAI unveils new ‘smarter, faster’ version of ChatGPT

American man Weil, formerly the president of product and business at satellite image services company Planet Labs PBC, will lead a product team devoted to applying OpenAI’s research work to serve the company’s consumer and enterprise users.

OpenAI’s leadership is currently facing renewed concerns that it prioritised commercialising AI over ensuring its safety.

The start-up dissolved a high-profile safety group that was focused on addressing long-term risks of AI. It has also been hit by a series of departures from employees on safety-related teams.

Bloomberg noted that OpenAI, for its part, has stressed its commitment to developing AI safely and responsibly.

“The product team at OpenAI has set the pace for both breakthrough innovation, and thoughtful deployment of AI products,” Weil said in a statement.

“I am thrilled to be part of the next phase of growth, as we continue to safely and responsibly build towards AGI,” he said, referring to a hypothetical form of AI that can outperform humans on many tasks.