Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has confirmed in a tweet the integration of former OpenAI executives Sam Altman and Greg Brockman into a new advanced AI research team at the company. This move comes in the wake of rapid leadership changes at OpenAI, which led to the firing of both co-founders from the company’s helm of affairs.
Given the recent departures, Nadella expressed Microsoft’s unwavering commitment to its partnership with OpenAI, emphasising confidence in the company and its former executives..
Former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, along with President Greg Brockman and their colleagues, will lead the new advanced AI research initiative at Microsoft. Although Altman won’t return as CEO, the announcement cements the company’s commitment to maintaining its relationship with the former CEO who initiated the partnership with both companies earlier on.
Altman, in a statement shared through Twitter, affirmed his continued mission despite departing from OpenAI. The collaboration between Microsoft and the former OpenAI leadership marks a significant milestone in the evolving landscape of AI research and development.
The decision to bring Altman, Brockman, and their team to Microsoft transpired after a series of discussions over three days, following the sudden departure of key figures from OpenAI. The former OpenAI executives joined Microsoft’s San Francisco headquarters, ushering in a new chapter in AI research, with Emmett Shear, the former head of Twitch, stepping in as the new interim CEO of OpenAI.
With Microsoft’s continued commitment and the expertise of the former OpenAI team, this alliance is poised to drive groundbreaking developments that will shape the future of artificial intelligence. Nadella expressed eagerness to provide the necessary resources for the success of the new AI research team, setting the stage for a pioneering era in AI innovation.
“We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success,” said Nadella, in what many tech entrepreneurs labelled as an example of “incredible execution.”
Microsoft and Sam Altman continue bromance
Altman has been the public face of OpenAI, the most valuable U.S. startup. It’s not only widely estimated to be leading the current AI race but has, in less than a year, also assumed the position of kingmaker for thousands of other startups that are building atop its software offerings.
Among the many investors the AI startup has courted, Nadella’s Microsoft has so far invested over $10 billion in it and acquired almost 50% ownership. This investment in OpenAI has also supercharged its AI efforts, helping it court many businesses and provide Wall Street with adequate confidence about the decades-old software giant’s prospects.
Altman had been negotiating to return as OpenAI CEO, but OpenAI’s four-person board refused to step down and let him return, according to multiple sources speaking to The Verge. He had reportedly been pitching a separate startup to build custom, Nvidia-rivaling AI Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) chips to investors recently, according to The New York Times.
The TPU project was codenamed “Tigris,” attracting a number of prominent venture firms and even interest from Microsoft.
Altman and OpenAI had been working with Microsoft to refine and test the Maia AI chip. Although the tech giant was quick to downplay the chip’s impact on its close Nvidia partnership, the Maia GPU is part of a series, and the company is already working on a second generation.
Recall that the OpenAI board said it had removed Altman because he had not been “consistently candid” in his conversations with them. It didn’t elaborate on the reasoning, which angered many OpenAI employees. “The board had a chance to explain their drastic actions, and they did not take it,” wrote Andrej Karpathy, a research scientist at OpenAI, on X.
However, according to the company’s official statement, “The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.” This departure has left Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati stepping in as the interim CEO with immediate effect as the company is set to initiate a search for a permanent successor to the CEO position.
Microsoft is the exclusive cloud partner for OpenAI, and its cloud services power all OpenAI workloads across products, API services, and research.
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