Just two days after OpenAI’s board of directors fired the company’s co-founder and chief executive Sam Altman and the resignation of another co-founder Greg Brockman, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has announced hiring Sam Altman and Greg Brockman to lead its advanced AI research team. The transfer of major OpenAI people to Microsoft marks a crucial moment in the AI industry as OpenAI changes leadership, whereas the software giant gains experienced AI researchers and executives.
“We remain committed to our partnership with OpenAI and have confidence in our product roadmap, our ability to continue to innovate with everything we announced at Microsoft Ignite, and in continuing to support our customers and partners,” wrote Satya Nadella, chief executive of Microsoft, in an X post. “We look forward to getting to know Emmett Shear and OpenAI’s new leadership team and working with them. And we are extremely excited to share the news that Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, together with colleagues, will be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team. We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success.”
Altman’s and Brockman’s roles at Microsoft involve spearheading a newly formed advanced AI research division. At present, Microsoft uses OpenAI technologies to power its own artificial intelligence tools and services. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s cloud services power all of OpenAI’s projects. With Altman and Brockman at Microsoft, the latter will eventually develop its own AI technologies, which will at least reduce its reliance on OpenAI. Despite the organizational turmoil, Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI remains robust, highlighted by its substantial investment in the company, rumored to be around $10 billion.
Late last week the OpenAI board of directors ousted Sam Altman from the company, citing a lack of confidence as the reason for his firing. This lead to a weekend of intense negotiations about his potential return. However, these discussions fell through, and Microsoft apparently decided to hire two people well known in the AI industry. This move is not solely about the two high-profile hires. It also includes the migration of other key OpenAI talents such as Jakub Pachocki, Szymon Sidor, and Aleksander Madry, signaling a substantial shift of people from OpenAI to Microsoft, reports The Verge. Meanwhile, OpenAI employees are posting similar tweets noting that OpenAI is nothing without its people.
Microsoft’s initiative in forming the advanced AI research team is part of a broader strategy to establish greater autonomy in AI technology. The company recently presented its own custom AI processors and an Arm-based CPU for cloud workloads. These innovations are designed to power Azure datacenters and represent a strategic move to reduce reliance on external providers like Nvidia, showcasing Microsoft’s commitment to expanding its technological capabilities.
The interim CEO position at OpenAI was handed to Emmett Shear, the former chief of Twitch. This leadership change at OpenAI coincides with Altman’s exploration of new ventures, including a start-up focused on AI Tensor Processing Unit chips, codenamed Tigris, which was set to rival Nvidia.