Microsoft Hires Former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman After His Sudden Dismissal

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has announced that Sam Altman will be joining his company.
Microsoft Hires Former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman After His Sudden Dismissal
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman during a meeting at the Station F in Paris on May 26, 2023. (Joel Saget/AFP via Getty Images)
Aldgra Fredly

Former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is joining Microsoft following his sudden dismissal from the artificial intelligence tech company last week.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made the announcement on the company's blog on Nov. 19. Greg Brockman, OpenAI's co-founder and president who resigned after Mr. Altman's dismissal, is also set to join Microsoft.

"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," Mr. Nadella stated.

"We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success," he added.

OpenAI has received more than $10 billion from Microsoft since the company switched to a for-profit model in 2018.

OpenAI, the company behind the popular chatbot ChatGPT, fired Mr. Altman on Nov. 17, citing the board's loss of confidence in his leadership ability.
His termination resulted in the resignation of at least four staff at OpenAI, including Mr. Brockman, according to reports. The company's board hired former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear as an interim CEO.

"We look forward to getting to know Emmett Shear and OAI’s new leadership team and working with them," Mr. Nadella stated.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Nov. 20, Mr. Shear described the offer to join OpenAI as "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

"I took this job because I believe that OpenAI is one of the most important companies currently in existence.

"When the board shared the situation and asked me to take the role, I did not make the decision lightly. Ultimately I felt that I had a duty to help if I could," he stated.

Shear Comments on Altman's Removal

Mr. Shear unveiled his "three point plan" for the next 30 days, which includes reforming the management and leadership team at OpenAI.

The plan also includes hiring an independent investigator to look into the entire process and speaking with OpenAI's employees, investors, and customers.

"Depending on the results everything we learn from these, I will drive changes in the organization — up to and including pushing strongly for significant governance changes if necessary. I will be rolling these out as they become clear over the 30 day period," he said.

Mr. Shear also stated that OpenAI's decision to remove Mr. Altman was not owing to "any specific disagreement on safety."

"Before I took the job, I checked on the reasoning behind the change. The board did *not* remove Sam over any specific disagreement on safety, their reasoning was completely different from that," he stated.

Mr. Shear co-founded live streaming platform, which became Twitch in 2011 and quickly gained traction in the gaming community. Twitch was acquired by Amazon in 2014 for just under $1 billion. He stepped down as Twitch CEO earlier this year.

 OpenAI logo on the ChatGPT website. (Dreamstime/TNS)
OpenAI logo on the ChatGPT website. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Mr. Altman has started several startups, including startup accelerator Y Combinator and social networking company Loopt. He, together with others, started OpenAI as a nonprofit lab in 2015.

Just a week before his removal, at OpenAI's inaugural developer conference, Mr. Altman said ChatGPT had more than 100 million weekly users and 2 million developers.

When OpenAI launched ChatGPT to the public in November 2022, the chatbot swiftly became a global phenomenon, attracting hundreds of millions of users. Users were impressed by ChatGPT's ability to answer questions and engage with them across a wide array of topics.

Mr. Altman became regarded as a prominent figure in the generative AI industry. The move also drove tech giants such as Google and Facebook to jump into generative AI.

As recently as Nov. 16, Mr. Altman showed no signs of concern at two public events. He joined colleagues in a panel on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in San Francisco.

OpenAI said its board of directors "consists of OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, independent directors Quora CEO Adam D'Angelo, technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, and Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology's Helen Toner."

Aaron Pan, Katabella Roberts, and Reuters contributed to this report.