What just happened? Sam Altman is definitely not returning to OpenAI following his shock firing a few days ago. Instead, he will be joining Microsoft as the head of a new artificial intelligence research team, according to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Altman, one of the initial board members of OpenAI, was fired as CEO of the ChatGPT company on Friday. The decision came after a review by the board of directors which said it no longer had confidence in Altman's ability to lead OpenAI and stay "consistently candid in his communications with the board." His departure led several OpenAI members, including co-founder Greg Brockman, to leave the company in protest.
Given Altman's well-known status in the tech world, and the fact he headed the company that kicked off a generative artificial intelligence revolution so impactful on society that "AI" became the word of year, there were discussions about reinstating Altman in his CEO position just a day after he was fired.
Discussions to bring Altman back ended on Sunday when the four-person board refused to allow him to come back, according to The Verge's sources. Twitch chief executive and co-founder Emmett Shear was appointed OpenAI interim chief executive, taking over from Mira Murati, who was named interim OpenAI CEO immediately after Altman's firing.
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
Nadella posted on X this morning that both Altman and Brockman, together with other colleagues who left OpenAI, 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," Nadella said.
Microsoft has invested in the region of $10 billion into OpenAI and acquired almost 50% ownership of the company. Nadella says the Redmond giant remains committed to Altman's former firm, and has "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."
Nadella's announcement comes just a week after the rumors that Microsoft has been working on its own Arm processors for AI and cloud workloads were confirmed by the company. One of the chips, the Microsoft Azure Maia 100 AI Accelerator, is designed specifically for running large language models such as OpenAI's GPT-3.5 Turbo and GPT-4. Both Altman and OpenAI had been working with Microsoft to refine and test the Maia chip.