Talk about a quick turnaround.
To cap off one of the most bizarre weekends in tech history, Microsoft has announced that it's hiring freshly-fired OpenAI chief Sam Altman.
In a post on X-formerly-Twitter, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that although he continues to have "confidence" in OpenAI — which just sacked Altman — he was hiring the exec to "lead a new advanced AI research team" at the tech monolith.
The timing of the tweet — just before midnight Pacific Standard Time, and just a few hours after OpenAI told employees that despite reports to the contrary, it would not be hiring the cofounder and now-ex-CEO back after all — suggests that despite Nadella's insistence to the contrary, there is some strain between the firms over Altman's ouster.
This stunning saga began just a few days ago, when on Friday afternoon OpenAI's board dropped an incredible evening news bomb: that it was firing Altman, seemingly out of nowhere.
"Mr. Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities," the company's board wrote of the surprise ouster. "The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI."
Things at the AI firm became almost immediately more dramatic shortly thereafter when OpenAI president Greg Brockman — who Microsoft is also hiring to lead AI research — and three other senior researchers at the company resigned in solidarity with Altman.
By the next day, it was already becoming clear that the board's decision was causing major financial anxiety, with company investors — including Microsoft, which was reportedly blindsided by the OpenAI board's decision — pushing for the ousted CEO's reinstatement.
The OpenAI board apparently took that pressure to heart and invited Altman back to its San Francisco headquarters to discuss the possibility of a return that doesn't seem meant to be. Along with announcing that Altman would not be coming back after all, OpenAI said that it was appointing Twitch cofounder Emmett Shear as its interim CEO, replacing chief technology officer Mira Murati in the role that she'd been named to just a few days prior.
Though this isn't the first time OpenAI has had a leadership shakeup this sensational — Elon Musk was, after all, also a cofounder, and purportedly left in a huff in 2018 — this debacle comes not just in a massive chapter for the swiftly-climbing, but also for AI in general.
Although we don't know more about what's going on behind the scenes — we've reached out to OpenAI to ask about it, but we're pretty sure their press inbox is beyond full right about now — two things are clear: there's much more to this drama than meets the eye, and much more to come.
Share This Article