Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced late last night that former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman were both joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team, leading to a surge in Microsoft’s stock price. However, less than 24 hours later, following The Verge reporting that Sam Altman is still attempting to return as OpenAI CEO, Nadella seems uncertain.
During an interview with CNBC’s Jon Fortt, Nadella stated that “[We’re] committed to OpenAI and Sam, irrespective of what configuration,” adding that Microsoft “chose to explicitly partner with OpenAI [and] obviously that depends on the people at OpenAI staying there or coming to Microsoft, so I’m open to both options.” Nadella expressed a desire for Altman and Brockman to have a great home if they don’t stay at OpenAI, but he reasserted his stance prior to the recent developments.
Nadella appeared to wish he could return to a time when Altman was still OpenAI CEO and Microsoft had a strong partnership with the company, suggesting regret over recent events. When asked about the possibility of Altman and other OpenAI employees joining Microsoft, Nadella deferred the decision to the OpenAI board and management, emphasizing Microsoft’s existing AI capabilities to reassure investors and customers.
During an interview with Bloomberg TV, Nadella confirmed that Altman and Brockman are in the process of joining Microsoft, but swiftly redirected the conversation to focus on Microsoft’s AI work.
It appears that Nadella shares the desire of Altman and numerous OpenAI employees for changes within the OpenAI board. While not explicitly stated, Nadella indicated a need for governance changes to ensure smooth partnerships, hinting at dissatisfaction with recent unexpected developments.
Reports indicate that Sam Altman has not yet appeared in Microsoft’s corporate directory or in internal company-wide memos. If Altman transitions to Microsoft, he would hold a CEO title, a significant position within the company.
The status of Sam Altman’s role as CEO remains uncertain, with the question lingering on whether it will be at Microsoft or OpenAI.