Microsoft has made a major recruitment move by hiring former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman. This decision comes after Altman’s recent dismissal from OpenAI by the board due to a loss of confidence in his leadership abilities.
After a weekend of negotiations, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that both Altman and Brockman will be leading Microsoft’s new advanced AI research team. Nadella expressed great enthusiasm about their arrival and the company’s eagerness to provide the necessary resources for their success.
Altman confirmed his move to Microsoft by re-sharing Nadella’s announcement on X (formerly Twitter) with the message “the mission continues.” Nadella responded, hinting at Altman’s role within Microsoft, emphasizing the company’s commitment to allowing founders and innovators the freedom to build independent identities and cultures, as seen in previous acquisitions such as GitHub, Mojang Studios, and LinkedIn.
This development occurred shortly after negotiations with OpenAI’s board failed to reinstate Altman as CEO. Instead, former Twitch CEO and co-founder Emmett Shear has been appointed as interim CEO of OpenAI, according to a source from The Verge. Shear will take over from Mira Murati, who served as interim CEO following Altman’s unexpected dismissal.
Although OpenAI has yet to officially confirm Shear’s appointment, given Microsoft’s hiring of Altman, an announcement regarding OpenAI’s new leadership structure is likely imminent.
Altman had been engaged in negotiations to return as OpenAI CEO, but the company’s board of four members refused to step down and allow his reinstatement, as reported by multiple sources. The Verge also revealed that Altman had been presenting a separate startup idea to investors recently. This startup aimed to develop custom AI Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) chips comparable to Nvidia’s offerings and was tentatively named “Tigris.” This project garnered interest from prominent venture firms and even piqued Microsoft’s curiosity.
In response to Altman’s appointment at Microsoft, the company has established a new advanced AI research team that will be led by both Altman and Brockman. Notably, this announcement arrives just a week after Microsoft unveiled its own custom AI chip for training large language models, potentially reducing dependence on Nvidia. Microsoft has also designed its Arm-based CPU for cloud workloads. These custom silicon chips are intended to power Azure data centers.
It is worth mentioning that Microsoft maintains a significant “multibillion dollar investment” in OpenAI, estimated to be approximately $10 billion. As OpenAI’s exclusive cloud partner, Microsoft’s cloud services are utilized for all OpenAI workloads across various products, API services, and research. Nadella reiterated Microsoft’s commitment to the partnership, expressing confidence in their product roadmap and the innovative potential showcased at Microsoft Ignite. Nadella also stated that Microsoft looks forward to collaborating with Shear and OpenAI’s new leadership team.