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As the weekend crisis at OpenAI ensued in the recruitment of Emmett Shear as the interim CEO of the company, Microsoft made a strategic master move by roping in outgoing Sam Altman and some other departing team members for a new, in-house advanced AI research group.
While a large chunk of details remain under wraps, Satya Nadella, the CEO of the tech giant, did confirm on X that Altman, Greg Brockman and their colleagues from OpenAI will all join and lead the new venture. The decision to bring them to Microsoft came after the company’s foiled attempt to reinstate Altman as the CEO of OpenAI.
He also noted that Microsoft remains committed to the partnership it has with OpenAI and looks forward to “getting to know” and working with Shear and the new leadership team at the company. Microsoft has invested $13 billion in OpenAI.
OpenAI staffers quitting after Sam Altman
Following Nadella’s post, Altman and Brockman both took to X to confirm the shift and note that their mission continues. Soon after, several OpenAI staffers, including Mira Murati, started posting “OpenAI is nothing without its people” on X. Murati was elevated from CTO to the role of interim CEO following Altman’s ouster but later she allied with Altman and his supporters to get him reinstated.
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While it is unclear if all of these people have quit and decided to move to Altman’s new venture, a report from The Information does note that the dozens of staffers internally announced they were quitting when board director and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever told employees that Altman will not return.
In a separate X post, Nadella confirmed that Altman will lead the new AI entity as CEO. Along with him and Brockman, other confirmed members in the initial leadership are OpenAI’s former director of research Jakub Pachocki, former research scientist Szymon Sidor and former head of preparedness Aleksander Madry.
The departures following Altman are expected to shake up OpenAI but not its broader course. With Microsoft as its backer and partner (although perhaps a rather disappointed one), the company is expected to continue its work toward AGI.
The mass resignation is also expected to give many OpenAI competitors fresh talent to poach. For instance, Elon Musk’s AI venture xAI has lately been taking a dig at this entire fiasco and sharing posts that it is hiring for different roles.
Microsoft, on its part, may not have gotten the outcome it initially wanted – with Altman returning as CEO, the company is still in the driving seat. It will continue the work it has done with OpenAI and move to launch planned features for its products and partners while also backing a completely new AI research team under its umbrella. This will give the tech giant much easier access to the power of AI for its products, including Windows and Teams.
“We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success,” Nadella noted in his post. This strategy of ending the chaos by dynamically getting hold of two AI players is widely being appreciated by the tech community.
That said, with Altman gone and new leadership at the helm, it remains to be seen how OpenAI stabilizes and fares in the space. More importantly, how confident the customers using its products will be in the days to come.