Sam Altman Joins Microsoft Hours After OpenAI’s Rejections: The announcement came at the end of a rough weekend for OpenAI, during which Mr Altman tried to get back to being CEO of the AI company.
OpenAI is a fast-growing artificial intelligence company. On Sunday night, the board of directors told employees in a note that Sam Altman, the company’s former chief executive officer, would not be returning to his job. They also named his second temporary replacement in two days.
After a few hours, Microsoft made another strange announcement: it was hiring Mr. Altman and Greg Brockman, who is the president of OpenAI and a co-founder of the company, to quit to support Mr. Altman. Both men will be in charge of a high-tech research lab at Microsoft.
Sam Altman Joins Microsoft Hours After OpenAI’s Rejections
OpenAI said that Emmett Shear, who was CEO of Twitch, will take over as interim CEO after Mr. Altman was rejected on Friday. Ms. Murati, who has worked for OpenAI for a long time, was put in charge of that job. According to a memo seen, OpenAI said Mr. Shear has a “unique mix of skills, expertise, and relationships that will drive OpenAI forward.”
Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, said that they will be appointing Mr. Altman as CEO of a new research lab “setting a new pace for innovation.” Mr. Nadella also said that Mr. Altman’s new group will work as a separate Microsoft entity.
Mr. Nadella left room for other unnamed colleagues who may join the two co-founders at Microsoft. “We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success,” he said.
Mr. Altman wrote on X in a coded message, “the mission continues.” Three people who saw the letter say that by Monday morning, more than 550 of OpenAI’s 700 employees had signed it saying they would quit to work on Mr Altman’s new project at Microsoft if the start-up’s board didn’t step down.
A Microsoft spokesperson wouldn’t say anything else besides what Mr. Nadella wrote to X. Wired about the letter.
i love you all.
today was a weird experience in many ways. but one unexpected one is that it has been sorta like reading your own eulogy while you’re still alive. the outpouring of love is awesome.
one takeaway: go tell your friends how great you think they are.
— Sam Altman (@sama) November 18, 2023
The tech industry and OpenAI’s investors, such as Microsoft, Sequoia Capital, and Thrive Capital, were shocked when Mr. Altman was fired. Microsoft, which has put more than $13 billion into OpenAI, didn’t know about Mr. Altman’s departure until one minute before it was made public. Other investors found out on social media that he had been fired. The weekend passed without any new information or updates being given to them.
“The board firmly stands by its decision as the only path to advance and defend the mission of OpenAI,” as stated in the memo sent on Sunday. It was in reference to Mr. Altman’s firing from the company on Friday. Each of the four directors on the board of the company signed it: Adam D’Angelo, Helen Toner, Ilya Sutskever, and Tasha McCauley.
“Put simply, Sam’s behavior and lack of transparency in his interactions with the board undermined the board’s ability to effectively supervise the company in the manner it was mandated to do,” the memo said.
People who think A.I. is the most important new technology since web browsers and people who think that moving too quickly to develop it could be dangerous were both upset by Mr. Altman’s departure, who is 38 years old. Mr. Altman was worried that Mr. Sutskever was too focused on building OpenAI’s business and not paying enough attention to the risks of A.I. because of this.
The board’s decision to fire Mr. Altman surprised people in the company and in the industry who knew and liked the charismatic founder. Investors and tech executives in Silicon Valley spoke out in support of Mr. Altman and Mr. Brockman. By Friday night, Mr. Altman was pitching investors on a new AI start-up. He planned to work with Mr. Brockman to make the business happen.
People have been interested in artificial intelligence (AI) since OpenAI released the popular ChatGPT chatbot almost a year ago. They think it could be used for useful things like drug research or to help teach kids. But some AI scientists and political leaders are worried about the risks, like jobs being taken over by machines or wars that become too complex for humans to control.