Microsoft has hired Sam Altman, a couple of days after his sudden firing as CEO of OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT.
In a statement issued yesterday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says Altman and OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman will join Microsoft to “lead a new, advanced artificial intelligence (AI) research team”.
On Friday, OpenAI announced Altman would depart as CEO and leave the board of directors. The company named CTO Mira Murati as interim CEO.
The news came as a shock to the tech industry, as well as Altman, who said on social media platform X (formerly Twitter) that it “was a weird experience in many ways” and likened it to “reading your own eulogy while you’re still alive”.
Brockman, who was also removed from his position on the board of OpenAI, commented in a post on X: “Sam and I are shocked and saddened by what the board did today. Let us first say thank you to all the incredible people who we have worked with at OpenAI, our customers, our investors, and all of those who have been reaching out.”
Brockman said Altman had received a text from Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI chief scientist, who asked Altman to join a virtual meeting where he was informed by the board that he would be fired. Another meeting was held to inform Brockman that he was being removed from the board but would retain his role in the company.
In its announcement of the “leadership transition”, OpenAI attributed the changes to a board review, citing concerns about Altman’s communication and a lack of confidence in his ability to lead consistently.
“We are grateful for Sam’s many contributions to the founding and growth of OpenAI. At the same time, we believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward. As the leader of the company’s research, product and safety functions, Mira is exceptionally qualified to step into the role of interim CEO. We have the utmost confidence in her ability to lead OpenAI during this transition period,” said OpenAI.
Microsoft, which has made a multibillion-dollar investment in OpenAI, says the appointment of Altman aligns with its plans to invest in AI for 2024.
This year, the organisation integrated AI into its full tech stack and introduced its Copilot AI assistant.
It has not yet been announced when Altman and Brockman will join Microsoft, but Nadella says: “We look forward to moving quickly to provide them [Altman and Brockman] with the resources needed for their success.
“We have a long-term agreement with OpenAI with full access to everything we need to deliver on our innovation agenda and an exciting product roadmap, and remain committed to our partnership. Together, we will continue to deliver the meaningful benefits of this technology to the world,” said Nadella.