Microsoft hires former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman to lead new AI Team

Microsoft hires former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman to lead new AI Team
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (R) and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman (L) address the audience at the OpenAI DevDay event on November 6, 2023, in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP)

Microsoft has made a strategic move by appointing former OpenAI co-founders Sam Altman and Greg Brockman to lead a “new advanced AI research team,” according to an announcement by Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, on Monday. This decision follows the unexpected removal of Altman from OpenAI’s board, leading to intense discussions over the past three days.

Altman, who has been the public face of OpenAI and a key figure in the AI industry, will take on the role of Chief Executive for the new AI group at Microsoft. Nadella expressed confidence in providing founders the space to build independent identities and cultures within Microsoft, citing successful examples like GitHub, Mojang Studios, and LinkedIn.

The newly formed team at Microsoft will include not only Altman and Brockman but also former top talent from OpenAI, such as Szymon Sidor, Jakub Pachocki, and Aleksander Madry, with more expected to join, as announced by Brockman in a post on X.

Nadella emphasized Microsoft’s commitment to supporting the success of the new team, reinforcing the company’s dedication to the startup ecosystem. Microsoft’s move is seen as a strategic effort to secure expertise and prevent other major tech companies from poaching talent. Altman, known for his leadership in the AI race, will play a crucial role in Microsoft’s AI efforts.

Despite the unexpected nature of OpenAI’s decision to remove Altman, Microsoft acted swiftly to secure the talent and reinforce its position in the rapidly evolving AI landscape. Altman expressed his commitment to the mission, echoing Nadella’s sentiment that the journey continues.

The decision by OpenAI’s board to remove Altman had caused turmoil within the organization, leading to protests from employees, including CTO Mira Murati. In response, Emmett Shear, appointed as OpenAI’s interim CEO, acknowledged mishandling the communication and outlined plans for a comprehensive review of the process and restructuring of the leadership team.

In a statement on X on Monday, Shear acknowledged that OpenAI’s handling of the process and communication regarding Altman’s removal “has been poorly managed, seriously damaging our trust.” Shear outlined a plan for the next 30 days, during which he intends to appoint an independent investigator to conduct a thorough review of the process leading to Altman’s removal. Additionally, he plans to engage in extensive discussions with stakeholders to gain insights and to restructure the management and leadership team to enhance the service to OpenAI customers.

Depending on the findings of these reviews, Shear committed to driving organizational changes, including advocating for significant governance adjustments if deemed necessary. He pledged to communicate these changes as they become clear over the 30-day period, emphasizing the paramount importance of OpenAI’s stability and success. Shear acknowledged that addressing key concerns may extend beyond a month, but he expressed a dedication to achieving genuine progress.

In his written statement, Shear conveyed deep respect for Sam Altman and the entire OpenAI team, recognizing the organization not only as an outstanding research project and software provider but also as an exceptional company. He asserted his commitment to protecting and further growing OpenAI, emphasizing his determination to utilize all available resources to achieve this goal.

Altman, in a post on X, acknowledged joining Microsoft and quoted Nadella, signaling a continuation of the mission. Nadella responded by expressing anticipation for Altman to build an independent identity within Microsoft, underscoring the company’s track record of supporting innovators.

Source: Axios

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