Microsoft appointed Sam Altman and Greg Brockman from OpenAI to lead a new advanced AI research team following Altman’s dismissal.
Microsoft has announced the hiring of Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, the former CEO and co-founder of OpenAI, to head a new advanced AI research team. This move came after Altman’s recent dismissal from OpenAI due to a dispute with the board of directors.
Altman and Brockman Join Microsoft
In a statement, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella expressed his enthusiasm in welcoming Altman and Brockman along with their team to Microsoft. He pledged to provide them with ample resources for success and encouraged them to develop an independent identity within Microsoft, similar to successful entities like GitHub, Mojang Studios, and LinkedIn.
Altman confirmed his transition to Microsoft by re-posting Nadella’s statement on X (formerly Twitter), indicating that “the mission continues.” Nadella acknowledged learning the importance of providing founders and innovators space to create within Microsoft.
Both Altman and Brockman hold significant positions in artificial intelligence. They co-founded OpenAI in 2015, aiming to ensure the safe use of artificial general intelligence (AGI), allowing machines to perform human-like intellectual tasks.
Altman’s Departure and Microsoft’s Strategy
Altman’s appointment at Microsoft swiftly followed failed negotiations with OpenAI’s board to reinstate him as CEO. The board cited a lack of confidence in Altman’s leadership, prompting his termination on October 31, 2023.
Challenges during Altman’s tenure included creating OpenAI LP, criticized for conflicting with the organization’s core values, and transparency issues in AI research. Departures of key personnel like Ilya Sutskever and Dario Amodei highlighted disagreements with Altman’s leadership direction and organizational culture.
Amidst negotiations to return as OpenAI CEO, sources claim Altman proposed a separate startup, “Tigris,” to develop AI Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) chips, attracting interest from investors, including Microsoft.
Microsoft’s Advanced AI Research and Collaboration with OpenAI
Microsoft formed a dedicated advanced AI research team led by Altman and Brockman. This development follows Microsoft’s recent creation of a custom AI chip and an Arm-based CPU designed to enhance its Azure data centers.
The collaboration between Altman and OpenAI with Microsoft involves refining and testing the Maia AI chip. Despite downplaying its impact on their Nvidia partnership, Microsoft continues developing its Maia GPU series, aiming to power Azure data centers.
Microsoft maintains a significant investment in OpenAI, rumored to be around $10 billion, with exclusive cloud services powering OpenAI’s operations across products, API services, and research.
Nadella reiterated Microsoft’s commitment to the partnership with OpenAI, expressing confidence in their product roadmap, innovation capabilities, and customer support. He looks forward to collaborating with Emmett Shear and OpenAI’s new leadership team, with Shear likely to be named as the interim CEO following Altman’s departure.