In a surprising turn of events, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has commented on the potential return of Sam Altman to OpenAI, despite Altman’s recent announcement of joining Microsoft’s newly-formed AI research team. Nadella expressed his desire for Altman and ex-OpenAI president Greg Brockman to have a “fantastic home” if they are not at OpenAI, indicating the possibility of Altman returning to the AI startup. Nadella’s statements align with earlier reports suggesting that Altman’s move to Microsoft may not be finalized, as only two of OpenAI’s three remaining board members need to support Altman’s return.
A Rocky Road for OpenAI
Since Altman’s departure, OpenAI has been in a state of turmoil. The management team and backers of the company have been considering potential replacements for the board in anticipation of Altman’s possible return. In their search for a new CEO, the board initially approached Nat Friedman, CEO of GitHub, and Alex Wang, CEO of Scale AI, both of whom declined the offers. Eventually, they settled on Emmett Shear, co-founder of Twitch, which sparked controversy internally. Employees reportedly expressed their dissatisfaction by refusing to attend a scheduled all-hands meeting with Shear and responding with a “fuck you” emoji on OpenAI’s Slack platform.
Employee Revolt and Recruitment Opportunities
The unrest within OpenAI has led to widespread revolt among employees. Over 700 of the company’s approximately 770 employees, including Ilya Sutskever, chief scientist at OpenAI, have signed a letter demanding the resignation of the board and the reinstatement of Altman. Taking advantage of the situation, Salesforce has seized the opportunity to recruit OpenAI researchers by offering matching compensation to those who join their AI research team.
The Call for Transparency
Adding to the discontent, the board has been criticized for not providing detailed reasons for Altman’s termination. In response, Shear has pledged to hire an independent investigator to thoroughly examine the entire process leading up to Altman’s departure and produce a comprehensive report. Nadella also expressed the need for changes in OpenAI’s governance, particularly in relation to investor relations, signaling a potential shift in the company’s future direction.
The saga at OpenAI continues, with Altman’s return hanging in the balance. As the board and management navigate these uncertainties, the future of OpenAI remains uncertain, leaving the AI community eagerly awaiting the next chapter in this evolving story.