back to article Fired OpenAI boss Sam Altman may join Microsoft

The story of Sam Altman and OpenAI took a twist this morning that even the most hallucinatory of chatbots would struggle to conjure: he and other OpenAI chums - including co-founder Greg Brockman - may be off to Microsoft. Altman was abruptly ousted from OpenAI on Friday and was followed through the doors by several OpenAI …

  1. katrinab Silver badge

    Did they ask ChatGPT to advise them on boardroom politics?

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Probably gave ChatGPT the data and asked it to give it's opinion, and they acted on it.

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge

    "former CTO briefly became interim CEO before former Twitch CEO took up the chalice"

    OpenAI boardroom meeting secretly recorded and uploaded to YouTube.

  3. Len

    Microsoft's investment was mainly in kind

    As I understand it the majority of Microsoft's investment was not in form of a transfer of money but in the form of donated computing capacity at Azure. Even if OpenAI were to tank, MS wouldn't have lost that investment.

    What happens now is interesting. I don't get the impression Altman was the brains behind OpenAI, he was the smooth talking figure head (who converted the existing non-profit into an investment vehicle), not the scientific brain. It will depend on how many scientists he can persuade him to follow him to MS whether it has a chance of taking off. Meanwhile MS could use access to its computing capacity to put pressure on OpenAI.

    1. Erik Beall

      Re: Microsoft's investment was mainly in kind

      Well he did convince those scientists to sign on to a startup in return for massive future pay out, which was suddenly jeopardized (and now cut by as much as 50%). They'll follow that promise if he can repeat it while he's now I guess at Microsoft. If he really is an employee of Microsoft he, as someone who ran Y Combinator as effectively as Graham, I'm sure will finagle some similarly remunerative way to incentivise colleagues to follow him or they'll stay at OpenAI. And maybe that's not such a bad deal after all, so someone who joined in year three will only cash out 5M instead of 10M, but the alternatives are far more risky. I doubt openAI will fail to cash out high enough for stock-incentivizes employees to have leveled up in the silicon valley skunkworks.

    2. Dinanziame Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft's investment was mainly in kind

      It will depend on how many scientists he can persuade him to follow him to MS whether it has a chance of taking off

      Reportedly, 80% of OpenAI employees have signed a letter stating they will follow him unless the board resigns.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An Elisa Program

    An Elisa Program by any other name is still an Elisa Program.

  5. cyberdemon Silver badge

    How much???!

    > OpenAI's reasons for ejecting Altman remain unclear. Under his leadership, the company has seen its value skyrocket and, according to reports, was in talks to sell existing employees' shares at a $86 billion valuation. It's hard to regard that deal as looking anything other than uncertain following the sudden departure of several top executives.

    Sounds like a pump-and-dump of the latest Big Tech Bubble to me.. Has Microsoft sold its OpenAI stake yet? Meanwhile I wouldn't be surprised if Sam Altman-Fried and chums are shorting their own stock..

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: How much???!

      It isn't a publicly traded company, you can't short it. Or sell it.

      You hold on to it and hope it IPOs in the future and you make your money that way.

  6. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Microsoft has scooped up the team and tipped them into an AI research unit

    Please give a big welcome to our new AI executives Bing Altman and Bob Brockman!

    Sorry, you've just been hired, what do you mean you're not happy with being subject to our AI brand naming decisions?

  7. Omnipresent Bronze badge


    You just put Ex Machina in charge of microsoft. You people seriously don't give a flip about anything or anyone. You WANT the borg hive mind. You WANT to destroy the universe. You WANT to devour and extinguish all life. The lack of vision and complete self absorption in charge of humanities future is ASTONISHING.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nadella damn fast

    Microsoft is in good hands, it seems.

  9. midcapwarrior

    Smart move by Satya

    Seems like a brilliant move by Satya.

    For better or worse the near term stock price is tied to ChatGPT.

    Kept the leadership in the Microsoft orbit and still has connections to Open AI.

    Stock was down as much as $10 after the initial dismissal and now is up in the pre-market.

    That's why he's the CEO.

    1. abend0c4

      Re: Smart move by Satya

      It seems that around 500 members of OpenAI staff are threatening to resign.

      While Microsoft might want to take a proportion of them onto its books, I can't help feeling that some of the other OpenAI stakeholders might be carefully reading their shareholder agreements.

      It's probably also not ultimately in Microsoft's interest if the expertise gets fragmented in a hiring frenzy that might follow an OpenAI implosion.

      I'm inclined to reserve judgment on his wisdom for now.

  10. EddK

    AGI or not AGI? That is the question.

    My guess is that the board feel that OpenAI (probably GPT 5) has met their threshold for Artificial General Intelligence(AGI) and Sam wasn't forthcoming with that information. Apparently their deal with Microsoft doesn't include sharing AGI, so they wouldn't share GPT5 with Microsoft.

    The OpenAI board kept referring back to their mission of helping all of humanity.

    Given Sam is now joining Microsoft...the plot thickens.

  11. Dostoevsky

    Resignation Threat Letter

    Hmm... It looks like either way, MS is coming out with a capable AI team, perhaps working for them, or perhaps with a >50% share of OpenAI. Pretty interesting!

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: Resignation Threat Letter

      The whole thing stinks, and as you say, who looks to benefit.

      Never forget the dirty tricks that sank Sendo and handled Microsoft all the Windows phone development for nothing.

  12. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "a three-point plan for the next 30 days: ...talking to customers and employees, ..."

    Yes, talking to customers and employees is such a drag but you've got to do it sometime and it's only 30 days.

  13. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    And the latest news …

    appears to be that 500 OpenAI (current as of the time I'm typing this) employees have signed an open letter saying "Altman back, existing board gone, or we'll probably walk after Altman".

    Musk just lost the "incompetent management of a company" crown.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: And the latest news …

      By going he's vastly reduced the value of every employee's stock - no wonder they want him back.

      This goes one of two ways. Either Altman is maligned and the board is incompetent, which seems to be the popular conception.

      Or, he was trying to change the direction of the company in some way: "OpenAI was deliberately structured to advance our mission: to ensure artificial general intelligence (AGI) benefits all humanity. The board remains fully committed to serving this mission." was the statement they made. If he was selling the family silver to feather his own nest then the board did exactly what they were required to do. Which, to be fair, would be a first for a board of directors in a company like this, most of whom would only be watching the stock price.

      Either way it feels too early to make presumptions on who is in the wrong, although I'll concede there might be some knowledge out there on this that I've missed.

      1. midcapwarrior

        Re: And the latest news …

        A significant number of the employees were not happy that they created a for profit part of the company.

        Some true believers thinking there work was for the altruistic and for the betterment of mankind and not to get rich.

        Not something I understand but then I don't understand FOSS either.

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