Fired OpenAI founders, creators of ChatGPT, heading to Microsoft
Microsoft has announced the hiring of former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman to lead a new advanced AI research team. This move comes after Altman was dismissed from OpenAI last Friday due to the board’s loss of confidence in his leadership. Despite attempts to bring Altman back to OpenAI, negotiations failed, leading to Microsoft’s decision to bring him on board, along with Brockman, for their new AI initiative.
In a statement, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella expressed excitement about Altman and Brockman joining the company to lead the advanced AI research team. Nadella stated, “We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success.” Altman acknowledged his new role at Microsoft through a post on the X platform (formerly Twitter), reposting Nadella’s announcement with the message “the mission continues.”
Nadella hinted at the independence Microsoft provides to founders and innovators, citing examples like GitHub, Mojang Studios, and LinkedIn, and expressed anticipation for Altman to create a similar identity and culture within Microsoft.
Brockman disclosed that the new advanced AI research team at Microsoft would include key talent from OpenAI, including Jakub Pachocki, director of research, who will assume an unspecified leadership position at Microsoft. OpenAI research scientist Szymon Sidor and head of preparedness Aleksander Madry are also set to take leadership roles at Microsoft. This move signals a potential exodus from OpenAI, with employees posting “OpenAI is nothing without its people” on X, hinting at more resignations to come.
Altman’s hiring by Microsoft followed unsuccessful negotiations with OpenAI’s board to reinstate him as CEO. Emmett Shear, former CEO and co-founder of Twitch, has been appointed interim CEO, succeeding Mira Murati, who held the interim role following Altman’s abrupt dismissal.
Altman had been in talks to return as OpenAI CEO but faced resistance from the board. Reports suggest he was pitching a startup named “Tigris” to investors, focusing on building custom AI Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) chips, potentially rivalling Nvidia. Microsoft had shown interest in the Tigris project, contributing to the formation of the new advanced AI research team.
This strategic move by Microsoft comes a week after the company unveiled its custom AI chip designed for training large language models, signalling a shift away from reliance on Nvidia. Microsoft has also developed its Arm-based CPU for cloud workloads, demonstrating a commitment to custom silicon for its Azure data centres.
Despite Altman’s departure from OpenAI, Microsoft maintains a significant investment in the organization, estimated to be around $10 billion. The partnership between Microsoft and OpenAI remains intact, with Microsoft serving as the exclusive cloud partner for OpenAI, supporting various workloads across products, API services, and research. Nadella expressed confidence in Microsoft’s product roadmap and commitment to innovation, emphasizing continued collaboration with OpenAI under its new leadership.