Chatbot maker OpenAI fired and nearly rehired Sam Altman before he was picked up by its chief strategic partner, Microsoft
Sam Altman, the former CEO of AI powerhouse OpenAI, is joining Microsoft to lead a “new advanced AI research team,” the tech giant’s CEO Satya Nadella confirmed on X (formerly Twitter) on Monday.
Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s former president who quit after Altman was fired on Friday, is also joining Microsoft to work in the new group.
Nadella said Microsoft was “extremely excited” to announce the recruitment of Altman and Brockman, “together with colleagues” who also jumped ship at OpenAI following the CEO’s chaotic dismissal.
OpenAI was believed to be looking to rehire Altman after what was widely reported as a messy ouster on Friday. He was spotted at the company’s headquarters on Sunday, where it was speculated that he was discussing the terms of his return, which would include a restructuring of the board that had fired him. Microsoft, the ChatGPT developer’s main financial backer, apparently won out instead.
While the circumstances of Altman’s firing from OpenAI remain unclear, the company’s board claimed in its statement on Friday that the tech executive had not been “consistently candid” in his discussions with them, hampering the board’s ability to do its work.
Brockman blamed a disagreement with OpenAI’s research division, led by co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, in a post on X on Friday in which he acknowledged he and Altman were “still trying to figure out exactly what happened” leading up to the CEO’s ouster.
Altman, he said, was summoned by Sutskever on Thursday night to a board meeting on Friday, where he was told “he was being fired and that the news was going out very soon.” Brockman also got a meeting summons from Sutskever, who told him he was being removed from his post as chairman and that Altman had been fired. Despite Sutskever reportedly telling him he was “vital to the company and would retain his role,” Brockman resigned.
Insiders told CNN there was a clash of attitudes between Altman, who wanted to speed up AI product development, and the board, which wanted to prioritize caution – with Altman’s own cautious public rhetoric not matching his actions behind the scenes. Altman’s recent announcement that OpenAI was releasing a way for anyone to create their own ChatGPT-like chatbot was reportedly “an inflection moment of Altman pushing too far, too fast” for Sutskever and the board.
Microsoft owns a $13 billion share in OpenAI and uses the company’s technology to power its Bing chatbot. Like Altman himself, the company did not learn the CEO was fired until “just before” it was announced publicly.
Meanwhile, OpenAI hired former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear as interim CEO on Monday, taking over from the company’s chief technology officer Mira Murati, who had been named interim CEO following Altman’s ouster.