The Sam Altman/OpenAI saga continues this morning. Microsoft has recruited former both Sam Altman and his OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman just days after their high-profile exits.
Altman was abruptly fired as OpenAI’s chief last Friday, with the board citing lost confidence in his leadership. Altman’s departure was followed by his co-Founder, Greg Brockman and three of OpenAI’s top researchers.
Altman and Brockman to Lead AI R&D for Microsoft
But after a weekend of negotiations about potentially returning to OpenAI, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that Altman and Brockman would instead be joining Microsoft to spearhead a new advanced AI research team.
Nadella shared his enthusiasm about poaching the duo, saying:
“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. We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success.”
For his part, Altman acknowledged the news by reposting Nadella’s statement on social media with the message “the mission continues.” Nadella hinted at grand plans for Altman’s role, noting Microsoft has a track record of giving leaders of acquisitions like LinkedIn and GitHub “space to build independent identities and cultures within Microsoft.”
This suggests Altman may enjoy significant autonomy in charting the new research team’s course. In fact, he’s been handed the prestigious CEO title, which Microsoft typically reserves for heads of major businesses or acquisitions.
Top OpenAI Researchers to Join the Team
Brockman revealed that other top OpenAI talent will join the exodus to Microsoft’s new venture. This includes research director Jakub Pachocki, scientist Szymon Sidor, and preparedness lead Aleksander Madry snagging key roles. OpenAI employees also flooded social media with messages about the company being “nothing without its people,” signaling further resignations may follow.
OpenAI Tried To Rehire Altman Over the Weekend
The bold recruitment of Altman and Brockman came just hours after negotiations to bring Altman back as OpenAI’s CEO reportedly broke down. With that door closed, Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear has taken over as OpenAI’s newest interim chief. Altman had been angling for a return after his shocking dismissal, but OpenAI’s board refused to step aside to pave the way.
Microsoft to Take On Nvidia’s AI Chip Dominance
In recent weeks, he was also said to have pitched investors on a stealth startup developing AI chips to compete with Nvidia’s offerings.
Providing custom silicon for AI workloads aligns with Microsoft’s goals. Just last week, Microsoft unveiled its own AI chip designed to power large language models and reduce reliance on Nvidia technology. It has also built an Arm-based CPU chip for its cloud data centers to run AI applications.
In fact, Altman and OpenAI had already partnered with Microsoft to test and refine the new Maia AI chip. While Microsoft downplayed any tensions with Nvidia, the Maia GPU is part of an ongoing series, with a second generation already in the works.
Microsoft Remains Committed to OpenAI Investment
Despite poaching OpenAI’s top minds, Microsoft reiterated its commitment to the existing partnership. A “multibillion dollar investment,” rumored near $10 billion, gives Microsoft exclusive cloud rights for OpenAI’s products and research.
Nadella expressed confidence in supporting OpenAI under newly appointed interim CEO Emmett Shear. But OpenAI undeniably lost key visionaries who drove its meteoric rise to the forefront of generative AI.
For Microsoft, recruiting Altman and Brockman cements its ambition to lead the next wave of artificial intelligence. As pioneering minds behindChatGPT and other breakouts, Altman and Brockman bring invaluable experience transforming cutting-edge research into transformative products.
With their track record of AI dominance, Microsoft will count on them to catapult its own research capabilities forward. By providing ample resources and independence, Nadella clearly hopes to capture lightning in a bottle again with two individuals uniquely suited to unlock AI’s incredible potential.
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