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Ousted OpenAI CEO Sam Altman Joins Microsoft To Lead Its New AI Research Team

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Updated Nov 20, 2023, 04:47am EST


Former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and President Greg Brockman have joined Microsoft to lead its new AI research unit, the tech giant’s CEO Satya Nadella announced early Monday, capping off a weekend of drama that began with Altman’s shock removal by OpenAI’s board.

Key Facts

In a post on X, Nadella said Altman and Brockman “together with colleagues” will lead “a new advanced AI research team” at Microsoft.

The Microsoft CEO, however, noted his company remained “committed” to its partnership with OpenAI and “have confidence in our product roadmap.”

Altman reacted to Nadella’s post by simply tweeting: “The mission continues,” while Brockman is yet to comment.

Nadella’s post indicates other former OpenAI staffers will join alongside Altman and Brockman, but does not name anyone.

In a follow-up post, Nadella said Altman will serve as the CEO of the new unit and said the team will operate along the same lines as other Microsoft-owned entities like “GitHub, Mojang Studios, and LinkedIn.”

Key Background

Nadella’s announcement followed a drama-filled weekend that began with Altman’s unexpected firing from OpenAI on Friday, by the company’s board. In a press release, the board said the move was a result of a review that found Altman was “not consistently candid in his communications with the board” and added it no longer had confidence in Altman’s “ability to continue leading OpenAI.” Later that day, OpenAI President And Cofounder Greg Brockman announced he was quitting the company in response to the board’s decision. Key OpenAI investors attempted an intervention over the weekend to reinstate Altman. But on Sunday, the company’s board named former Twitch CEO Emmett Schear as his replacement.

What To Watch For

Many of Microsoft’s current AI offerings—including Bing Chat, Windows Copilot, Github Copilot—are built on OpenAI’s technology. It is unclear if Altman and Brockman are being brought on board to build in-house substitutes or work on something else completely. Nadella’s post insisted the company still had confidence in OpenAI and is looking forward “to getting to know Emmett Shear and OAI's new leadership team and working with them.”

Further Reading

Sam Altman Will Not Return As CEO Of OpenAI; Ex-Twitch CEO Picked (Forbes)

OpenAI Investors Plot Last-Minute Push With Microsoft To Reinstate Sam Altman As CEO (Forbes)

OpenAI Fires CEO Sam Altman After Losing Confidence In His Leadership (Forbes)

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