Microsoft Hires Sam Altman As OpenAI Board Brings In New Interim CEO

Altman will lead a new advanced AI research team at the tech giant along with some of his former colleagues.

Microsoft on Monday announced it has hired ousted OpenAI CEO and co-founder Sam Altman to head a new advanced AI research team after OpenAI’s board decided against reinstating Altman following negotiations over the weekend.

In a statement posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella wrote that the tech giant is also bringing in OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman, who resigned as president of the company in protest over the firing of Altman.

“We’re extremely excited to share the news that Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, together with colleagues, will be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team,” Nadella wrote. “We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success.”

OpenAI has reportedly hired Emmett Shear, the co-founder and former CEO of Twitch, to be interim CEO. The deal, first reported by The Information and Bloomberg, seemingly ended Altman’s hopes of returning to the helm after his shocking ouster.

“The board firmly stands by its decision as the only path to advance and defend the mission of OpenAI,” according to an internal memo obtained by The New York Times. It was signed by the four directors on the OpenAI board. “Put simply, Sam’s behaviour 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.”

They described Shear as having a “unique mix of skills, expertise and relationships that will drive OpenAI forward.”

Nadella said Microsoft, a lead investor in OpenAI, remains committed to the partnership and looks forward to working with Shear and the new leadership team.

Altman over the weekend had been talking with board members about a potential return to the artificial intelligence company behind ChatGPT, according to media reports.

The tech world was stunned on Friday after OpenAI’s board of directors had fired Altman, a high-profile figure and wunderkind of the artificial intelligence boom. OpenAI has made waves throughout the tech industry since it released its chatbot last year, earning a US $13 billion dollar investment from Microsoft and stunning the world with its powerful platform.

The company said simply at the time Altman had “not consistently [been] candid in his communications with the board,” but added later there was no “malfeasance or anything related to our financial, business, safety, or security/privacy practices.”

The Verge and The New York Times reported Sunday that Altman and Brockman had been speaking with the board about returning.

“Sam and I are shocked and saddened by what the board did today,” Brockman wrote after Altman was removed. “We too are still trying to figure out exactly what happened.”

The board has four remaining members who govern OpenAI’s activities. The Times added that there was no guarantee either Altman or Brockman would be reinstated, but employees at the company had expressed their support for that eventuality.

On Sunday, Altman posted a photo of him wearing a guest badge at OpenAI headquarters on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“First and last time I ever wear one of these,” he wrote.

OpenAI’s chief technology officer, Mira Murati, was initially appointed interim CEO after the firing.

The AI boom has thrilled and troubled the tech world. Altman has become a face of the rapidly expanding industry, but also prompted concerns that executives are not doing enough to rein in the potential dangers of artificial intelligence.

This story has been updated with Microsoft’s hiring of Altman.

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