Microsoft has announced that ousted OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and former President Greg Brockman will be joining the company and leading a new advanced AI research group. This comes after a chaotic weekend of failed negotiations to reinstate Altman as OpenAI CEO following his firing on Friday.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the move in a surprise post, saying "I'm super excited to have Sam join as CEO of this new group and committed to quickly providing them the resources for success.
Altman, Brockman and researchers who recently resigned from OpenAI in protest will now work at Microsoft. Brockman shared on X that the initial leadership team will include senior researchers Jakub Pachocki, Aleksander Madry and Szymon Sidor, who quit OpenAI on Friday in solidarity.
Microsoft says it remains committed to its partnership with OpenAI, in which it has invested over $10 billion. But behind the scenes, the tech giant is said to be furious. Creating a new and separate AI team under former OpenAI leaders is likely just the first act in what will undoubtedly be a complex and contentious relationship moving forward.
OpenAI is nothing Without its People
Dozens more OpenAI employees resigned Sunday when Altman was definitively denied his CEO role. On X, multiple key OpenAI employees including former interim CEO Mira Murati, Jason Kwon (chief strategy officer) and Brad Lightcap (chief operating officer) signaled support for Altman by posting "OpenAI is nothing without its people".
While it has not been officially confirmed that they will join Microsoft, the company will undoubtedly look to tap this talent for its new AI group under Altman and Brockman.
For OpenAI, this could signal the start of a mass talent exodus. The high-profile departures and uncertain future direction of the company will severely threaten staff morale and retention. For employees who opt not to join Altman and Brockman's new Microsoft team, lucrative offers await from rivals eager to capitalize on the leadership crisis. Major technology companies have already begun vying to poach top researchers amid the internal turmoil. Between former colleagues departing for Microsoft or competitors, OpenAI now faces challenges retaining and recruiting top AI talent.
The surprise hirings cap days of leadership turmoil at OpenAI following Altman's controversial firing by the board on Friday. With Microsoft's backing, Altman and Brockman are now positioned to drive AI progress outside of OpenAI. As Sam succinctly puts it, "the mission continues".