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Microsoft has hired OpenAI co-founders Sam Altman and Greg Brockman to head a “new advanced AI research team,” the software conglomerate’s chief Satya Nadella said Monday, capping three days of intense discussions after the unexpected decision by OpenAI’s board to fire Altman .
Many OpenAI members, including co-founder Brockman, left the company in protest last week. Nadella said Altman and Brockman will be joined by “colleagues.” Brockman said former OpenAI top talent Szymon Sidor, Jakub Pachocki, Aleksander Madry are joining Microsoft with “more” to follow. (Strangely missing from the list so far is Mira Murati, the former CTO of OpenAI, who was named its interim CEO after the firing of Altman.)
“We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources necessary for their success,” Nadella said in what many tech entrepreneurs called an example of “incredible execution.” Brockman said the new team will build “something new, and it will be incredible.”
Nadella, whose company has invested over $10 billion in OpenAI and acquired nearly 50% ownership, said the Windows maker remains committed to the startup. Microsoft was reportedly surprised by the sudden action by OpenAI’s board. It is noteworthy that Nadella managed to convince and find a familiar new home for the former leaders of OpenAI ahead of the opening of the market on Monday.
Altman has been the public face of OpenAI, the most valuable US startup. It is not only widely estimated to be the leader in the current AI race, but in less than a year has also taken the position of kingmaker for thousands of other startups building on top of its software offerings. Investments in OpenAI have also boosted Microsoft’s AI efforts, helping it woo many companies and giving Wall Street enough confidence in the decades-old software giant’s future prospects.
Microsoft’s move comes after a tumultuous weekend in which the OpenAI board, its investors, team members and Altman had a failed attempt to get the entrepreneur to return to the startup. The OpenAI board chose instead to hire former Twitch executive and co-founder Emmett Shear as its interim CEO, in a move that reportedly shocked Altman. OpenAI did not respond to a request for comment.
Earlier this weekend, Altman also began pitching a new AI venture to investors, according to the New York Times.
“We remain committed to our partnership with OpenAI and are confident in our product roadmap, our ability to continue to innovate with everything we announced at Microsoft Ignite, and to continue to support our customers and partners. We look forward to get to know and work with Emmett Shear and OAI’s new leadership team,” added Nadella.
The OpenAI board said it had removed Altman because he had not been “consistently honest” in his conversations with them. It did not elaborate on the reasoning, which angered many OpenAI staff. “The board had a chance to explain their drastic actions and they didn’t take it,” wrote Andrej Karpathy, a researcher at OpenAI, on X.
More to follow.