Former OpenAI boss to lead Microsoft Advanced AI division

Microsoft has hired OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman less than 36 hours after he stepped down as CEO of the ChatGPT creator. Emmett Shear, former Twitch CEO, has now taken the reins as the interim CEO of OpenAI. 

On Friday, OpenAI said that following a deliberative review process, the board had concluded that Altman “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities” so it “no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI”.

In a statement, the board of directors said: “OpenAI was deliberately structured to advance our mission: to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all humanity. The board remains fully committed to serving this mission. We are grateful for Sam’s many contributions to the founding and growth of OpenAI. At the same time, we believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward.”

At the time, OpenAI said Greg Brockman would also be stepping down as chairman of the board but would remain in his role at the company, reporting to the new CEO.

However, in a tweet posted this morning, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote: “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.”

Nadella said Microsoft remained committed to its partnership with OpenAI: “We 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.”

Microsoft’s Copilot office and developer productivity offerings are powered by OpenAI. Last year, the company announced an investment of $10bn in OpenAI. 

At last week’s Ignite developer conference, Microsoft unveiled a public preview of Azure AI Studio, which Eric Boyd, corporate vice-president for the company’s AI platform, described as “a state-of-the-art platform designed to simplify generative AI application development”. In a blog, he said the platform leverages OpenAI models such as GPT4, alongside a wide array of other cutting-edge models and services. 

Meanwhile, Shear tweeted to say he had accepted the post of interim CEO at OpenAI, describing it as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”. Along with hiring an independent investigator to look at what has been going on at OpenAI, Shear said he plans to reform the management and leadership team into an effective force to drive results for OpenAI customers.

“Before I took the job, I checked on the reasoning behind the change. The board did not remove Sam [Altman] over any specific disagreement on safety, their reasoning was completely different from that. I’m not crazy enough to take this job without board support for commercialising our awesome models.,” he said.


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