The board declared on Friday that it “no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI,” which resulted in Altman’s dismissal from the company. Sam Altman and Greg Brockman will both be joining to head Microsoft’s new advanced AI research division, the company CEO Satya Nadella revealed after a weekend of talks to perhaps lure Altman back to OpenAI.
“Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, along with colleagues, will be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team. We’re extremely excited to share this news,” says Nadella. “We are eager to get started as soon as possible to provide them the tools they need to succeed.”
We are steadfast in our dedication to the OpenAI alliance, confident in our product roadmap, our capacity for innovation in light of what we revealed at Microsoft Ignite, and our ability to serve our partners and customers. We’re excited to get to know Emmett.
– #satyanadella, or Satya Nadella 20 November 2023
Altman announced his decision to join Microsoft by reposting Nadella with the words “the mission continues” in a post on X (previously Twitter). In response, Nadella gave some indications about how he views Altman’s position at Microsoft. “I’m looking forward to having you do the same. We’ve learned a lot over the years about how to give founders and innovators space within Microsoft, including GitHub, Mojang Studios, and LinkedIn.”
Additionally, according to Brockman, certain important OpenAI personnel will be part of Microsoft’s new advanced AI research division. The director of research at OpenAI, Jakub Pachocki, will join Microsoft’s advanced AI research division in an undisclosed senior role. According to Brockman, Microsoft is also welcoming Szymon Sidor, an OpenAI research scientist, and Aleksander Madry, the head of readiness, into leadership roles. In a hint that more resignations are on the way, OpenAI staff members are also commenting on X that “OpenAI is nothing without its people.”
Only a few hours have passed since Altman’s reinstatement as OpenAI CEO was not successful in negotiations with the company’s board. Emmett Shear, a co-founder and former CEO of Twitch, has been appointed as the company’s acting CEO. After Altman’s shocking dismissal on Friday, Mira Murati was chosen interim CEO of OpenAI, and she will succeed him.
According to various people who spoke with The Verge, Altman had been negotiating to return as CEO of OpenAI, but the company’s four-person board refused to stand aside and allow him to do so. The New York Times reported that he had lately been pitching investors on a different firm he was involved in to manufacture custom Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) processors that rivaled Nvidia’s offerings. Under the codename “Tigris,” the TPU project attracted interest from Microsoft as well as several well-known venture firms.
Altman and Brockman will now head a new advanced AI research team that Microsoft has established. It happens barely one week after Microsoft revealed that it has created a proprietary AI processor that it can use to train massive language models and maybe get away from an expensive need on Nvidia. For cloud workloads, Microsoft has also developed its own Arm-based CPU. The purpose of both unique silicon chips is to power Azure data centers.
Microsoft had been collaborating with Altman and OpenAI to test and improve the Maia AI processor. Although Microsoft quickly downplayed the implications of the chip on its strong relationship with Nvidia, the Maia GPU is a part of a series, and the business is already developing a second generation.
Microsoft is still thought to be worth roughly $10 billion, and it has a “multibillion dollar investment” in OpenAI. Since Microsoft is OpenAI’s only cloud partner, all OpenAI workloads for products, API services, and research are powered by Microsoft’s cloud services.
“With everything we announced at Microsoft Ignite, we can continue to innovate. We also have faith in our product roadmap, our ability to support our customers and partners, and our partnership with OpenAI,” Nadella stated in his statement. “We are excited to collaborate with and get to know Emmett Shear and OAI’s new leadership team.”
Updated @ 3:28 AM ET on November 20th: Additional information about Altman’s hiring from Satya Nadella has been added to the article.
Updated @ 4:33 AM ET on November 20th: More information about Microsoft’s new AI team and the confirmation of Emmett Shear, co-founder of Twitch, as OpenAI’s new CEO have been added to the article.