Altman joins Microsoft following surprise OpenAI sacking
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has revealed Sam Altman will be joining the company after the former OpenAI CEO’s surprise sacking from the ChatGPT firm on Friday.
Nadella announced that Altman — alongside president Greg Brockman — will be joining to lead Microsoft’s new advanced AI research team.
The announcement comes just days after the OpenAI board sacked Altman, claiming it “no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI” and follows a weekend of negotiations to see him reappointed to the firm.
In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Altman acknowledged he was joining Microsoft by reposting Nadella with the message “the mission continues”. Nadella responded by providing some hints at how he sees Altman’s role at Microsoft. “We’ve learned a lot over the years about how to give founders and innovators space to build independent identities and cultures within Microsoft, including GitHub, Mojang Studios, and LinkedIn, and I’m looking forward to having you do the same.”
We remain committed to our partnership with OpenAI and have confidence in our product roadmap, our ability to continue to innovate with everything we announced at Microsoft Ignite, and in continuing to support our customers and partners. We look forward to getting to know Emmett…
— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) November 20, 2023
Altman and Brockman were abruptly sacked on Friday but spent part of the weekend locked in talks with the OpenAI board about a potential return — talks that appear to have stalled, given that the ChatGPT firm has now announced former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear as interim chief executive.
Reports from the New York Times claim his sacking may have been linked to Altman’s plans to launch a separate startup that will build custom, Nvidia-rivalling AI Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) chips. The project, codenamed Tigris, was being pitched to investors, the report claims.
Microsoft is one of the key backers of OpenAI and Nadella said the tech giant would “remain committed to our partnership with OpenAI and have confidence in our product road map, our ability to continue to innovate”.
OpenAI shook the tech world with the development of ChatGPT in November 2022, placing itself at the forefront of AI development, and Microsoft has a “multibillion dollar” investment in the firm, as well as a technical partnership including as the exclusive cloud partner for OpenAI.
But AI development is seen as a key space for the Windows founder, which last week announced the development of a new custom AI chip that can be used to train large language models, named Maia.
OpenAI was working with the Seattle-based firm to develop the Maia GPU platform.
It is also baking AI into all of its tech stacks and targeting enterprises specifically, according to a talk from Microsoft UK CTO Glen Robinson earlier this year.
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