Microsoft has announced it has hired Sam Altman and fellow OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman to lead a team conducting artificial intelligence research, days after the pair were pushed out of OpenAI.
Writing on X on Monday, Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella said that Altman and Brockman, “together with colleagues, will be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team”.
“We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success,” he added.
Altman retweeted Nadella’s post on Monday, adding: “The mission continues.”
The majority of OpenAI’s staff had signed an open letter threatening to resign unless ousted chief Sam Altman was reinstated, as the workforce of the ChatGPT-maker revolted against its board.
The letter, signed by more than 500 of OpenAI’s 770 employees, reads:
“We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgment and care for our mission and employees.”
The signatories added that they may resign and go to work for Altman at a newly formed subsidiary of Microsoft. Among the signatories is co-founder Ilya Sutskever, the board member who informed Altman he was being fired last week.
The employee letter accused the board of being “incapable of overseeing OpenAI”, adding:
“Microsoft has assured us that there are positions for all OpenAI employees at this new subsidiary should we choose to join.
“We will take this step imminently, unless all current board members resign, and the board appoints two new lead independent directors such as [former Salesforce chief] Bret Taylor and [US politician and former OpenAI board member] Will Hurd, and reinstates Sam Altman and Greg Brockman.”
The move follows a dramatic weekend in which Altman was abruptly sacked from OpenAI by the company’s board on Friday. He and Brockman, who quit soon after, were subsequently in talks to rejoin OpenAI, but these fell through late on Sunday.
The exact reason for Altman’s ouster remains unclear. According to people familiar with the matter, his firing stemmed from concerns about his commitment to OpenAI’s mission of ensuring safe and beneficial AI.
A person with direct knowledge of the board’s decision said it had become “impossible to oversee” the co-founder.
“There was no one big problem,. The board reached the point where they couldn’t believe what Sam told them.”
On Monday, Sutskever, who has previously written about the potential dangers of AI, wrote on X:
“I deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we’ve built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company.”
Employees at OpenAI had rallied behind Altman over the weekend, while leading investors in the company, including Microsoft and top venture firms such as Thrive Capital and Khosla Ventures, had explored the possibility of reinstating him to his former role.
Within hours of Shear’s appointment, Nadella announced Microsoft had swooped to recruit Altman and Brockman, while hundreds of OpenAI staff then made their threat to quit. Microsoft.
OpenAI’s key backer, would “remain committed to our partnership with OpenAI and have confidence in our product road map, our ability to continue to innovate”, wrote Nadella.