Microsoft has hired OpenAI co-founders Sam Altman and Greg Brockman to head up a “new advanced AI research team,” the software conglomerate’s chief Satya Nadella said Monday, capping three days of intense discussions following the unexpected decision by OpenAI’s board to dismiss Altman.
Many OpenAI members, including the co-founder Brockman, left the firm in protest last week. Nadella said Altman and Brockman will be joined by “colleagues,” suggesting that Microsoft is also hiring many other people who left OpenAI over the weekend.
“We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success,” said Nadella, in what many tech entrepreneurs labelled as an example of “incredible execution.”
Nadella, whose firm has invested over $10 billion in OpenAI and acquired almost 50% ownership, said the Windows-maker remains committed to the startup. Altman had been the public face of the startup, which not only is widely estimated to be leading the current AI race but has in less than a year also assumed the position of kingmaker for thousands of other startups that are building atop of OpenAI’s offerings.
The decision comes after a tumultuous weekend that saw Altman removed from his role at OpenAI by the organization’s board on Friday. Following his departure, Brockman also resigned. Negotiations for their potential return to OpenAI were not successful, concluding late Sunday. OpenAI board instead elected to hire former Twitch chief executive and co-founder Emmett Shear as its interim chief executive. OpenAI didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Earlier over the weekend, Altman also began to pitch a new AI venture to investors, according to the New York Times.
“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. We look forward to getting to know Emmett Shear and OAI’s new leadership team and working with them,” Nadella added.
The OpenAI board said it had removed Altman because he had not been “consistently candid” in his conversations with them. It didn’t elaborate the reasoning, which angered many OpenAI employees. “The board had a chance to explain their drastic actions and they did not take it,” wrote Andrej Karpathy, a research scientist at OpenAI, on X.
More to follow.