Microsoft’s big boss, Satya Nadella, hinted that the ousted CEO of OpenAI, Sam Altman, might just make a comeback to the company. Talking to CNBC and Bloomberg TV, Nadella threw in the possibility despite Altman’s recent gig announcement at Microsoft’s new AI research team.
Nadella spilled the beans, expressing a wish for Altman and his partner in AI, Greg Brockman, to find a sweet spot even if it’s not at OpenAI. When pressed about Altman’s OpenAI return, Nadella played it cool, saying it’s up to OpenAI’s folks to decide. A reported change of heart from OpenAI’s chief scientist adds spice, with just two out of three board members needing to flip for Altman’s encore.
According to TechCrunch, Nadella didn’t stop there; he wants OpenAI to shake things up, especially in the way it’s run. He talked about the need for changes in governance, hinting at discussions with OpenAI’s board. Investor relations are on the table too. OpenAI’s nonprofit setup puts investors, including Microsoft, on the sidelines without a direct say in the board. Nadella’s calling for a chat to update the rulebook.
“Obviously, we want Sam and Greg to have a fantastic home if they’re not going to be in OpenAI. That’s for, you know, [the] OpenAI board and management and the employees to choose … [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. It’s clear something has to change around the governance — we’ll have a good dialogue with their board on that, and walk through that as that evolve,” Nadella said in an interview with CNBC.
OpenAI and Sam Altman are the hottest topics right now
The OpenAI drama picked up speed since Altman’s exit. Over the weekend, OpenAI’s bigwigs started hunting for a new board to pave the way for Altman’s return. But, surprise, the existing board had its own plans, picking Emmett Shear, Twitch co-founder, as the new CEO. Shear’s gig, however, didn’t go down smoothly with the company’s rank and file.
"Surprises are bad."
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella tells @emilychangtv he wants to see some governance changes at OpenAI following the ousting of Sam Altman to ensure the companies continue to "partner well" https://t.co/1epwMhJgSd pic.twitter.com/TY8YmJyVBj
— Bloomberg Technology (@technology) November 20, 2023
The rebellion is real at OpenAI, with more than 700 of its 770 employees signing a letter, demanding the board’s head and Altman’s reinstatement. The lack of a clear reason for Altman’s firing stirred the pot even more. Shear tried to calm the storm, promising an investigation into Altman’s departure, but the emoji-filled reactions in OpenAI’s Slack suggest it might take more than that.
Despite the recent shakeup in OpenAI’s leadership, Microsoft isn’t hitting the brakes on its significant “multibillion-dollar investment” in the organization. Notably, Microsoft remains OpenAI’s exclusive cloud partner. The tech giant’s cloud services play a pivotal role in fueling all of OpenAI’s operations, underscoring an unwavering dedication to their ongoing collaboration. As the AI landscape evolves, Microsoft’s strategic moves hint at a future where innovation and partnership remain at the forefront.
As OpenAI navigates these choppy waters, all eyes are on the tech scene, curious to see how the leadership shuffle and governance overhaul will shape the future of this AI heavyweight.
Featured image credit: Microsoft