Microsoft Makes Surprise Hiring of Sam Altman and Greg Brockman from OpenAI
In a surprising turn of events, Microsoft has announced the hiring of Sam Altman and Greg Brockman after OpenAI confirmed that Altman would not be returning. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made the announcement in a post on X. Altman and Brockman, along with their colleagues, will be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team.
Nadella emphasized that Microsoft remains committed to its partnership with OpenAI. However, this move appears to be a strategic hedge on that bet. It also raises concerns about the potential stall in progress on OpenAI’s widely-used ChatGPT product, as a significant portion of OpenAI’s talent may now be moving to Microsoft.
Altman had remained quiet since news of his firing broke on Friday, only expressing gratitude to his OpenAI colleagues for their support. However, he confirmed his hiring by Microsoft in a post on X, stating that “the mission continues.” Nadella responded to Altman’s post, expressing his excitement about having Altman as CEO of the new group. He also mentioned Microsoft’s approach of giving founders and innovators space to build independent identities and cultures within the company, citing examples such as GitHub and Mojang Studios.
The announcement of Altman’s hiring came shortly after it was suggested that he might return to OpenAI. However, talks between the parties broke down, leading to OpenAI’s confirmation that Altman and Brockman would not be returning. Instead, Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear was reportedly appointed as OpenAI’s new CEO.
The confirmation of Altman’s firing and subsequent hiring by Microsoft raise multiple questions. Microsoft has a significant investment in OpenAI, with a $13 billion investment and a 49 percent stake in the for-profit segment of the organization. Microsoft recently unveiled its Copilot AI assistant, which is powered by OpenAI’s technology.
However, OpenAI’s unique “capped-profit” corporate structure, with both a for-profit and non-profit body, has implications for Microsoft’s investment. Despite Nadella’s reassurances, the partnership between Microsoft and OpenAI is likely to be impacted by Microsoft having its own AI research team, especially since it will be led by OpenAI’s former CEO. Further developments can be expected as this story continues to unfold.