Former OpenAI chief Sam Altman and president Greg Brockman join Microsoft to lead new AI research team after chaotic weekend negotiations
Former OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman and president Greg Brockman have joined Microsoft to lead a new AI research team, Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella said on Monday morning.
The announcement follows a weekend of chaotic negotiations after Altman’s shock ouster on Friday, as Microsoft and other major OpenAI investors lobbied for Altman’s return, which would reportedly have been conditional on the removal of the four-person not-for-profit company board.
On Sunday Altman posted a photo of himself at OpenAI’s headquarters wearing a guest badge, writing, “First and last time I ever wear one of these.”
At 1 am local time on Monday morning (9 am GMT), former Twitch chief executive and co-founder Emmett Shear confirmed on X (formerly Twitter) that he had been appointed interim chief executive of the firm.
‘New AI research team’
Shear said he would launch an independent investigation into the process around Altman’s dismissal, which he said had been “handled very badly” and had “seriously damaged our trust”.
Shear’s message came about an hour after Nadella’s message announcing that Altman and Brockman would be joining Microsoft, which was published at about midnight US Pacific time (8 am GMT).
“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,” Nadella wrote.
“We look forward to getting to know Emmett Shear and OAI’s new leadership team and working with them.
“And we’re 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.
Dozens quit in support
“We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success.”
Nadella provided no further information on which of Altman and Brockman’s “colleagues” would be joining them at Microsoft.
The Information reported that dozens of OpenAI staff resigned on Sunday after being told that Altman would not return.
OpenAI chief technology officer Mira Murati, who was initially appointed as interim chief executive after Altman’s departure, had also said she was lobbying for Altman’s return to the company.
Chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, who serves on the four-person board, told OpenAI staff that Altman’s behavior and board interactions had undermined the board’s ability to supervise AI development, The Information reported.
Speaking to Sky News, Altman said, “Today was a weird experience in many ways. But one unexpected one is that it has been sorta like reading your own eulogy while you’re still alive. The outpouring of love is awesome.”
Altman reposted Nadella’s message, writing, “The mission continues.”
In a reply, Nadella compared the new AI research team toMicrosoft acquisitions such as GitHub and LinkedIn, which have a degree of autonomy within the company.
“We’ve learned a lot over the years about how to give founders and innovators space to build independent identities and cultures within Microsoft, including GitHub, Mojang Studios, and LinkedIn, and I’m looking forward to having you do the same,” Nadella wrote.