Just after 2 o’clock On Monday morning Pacific Time, several OpenAI staff members, including its chief technology officer, Mira Murati, posted in unison on X: “OpenAI is nothing without its people.” Sam Altman, who was dramatically removed as the company’s chief executive on Friday, reposted many of them. By then, Altman already had a new job. Satya Nadella, CEO of major investor and OpenAI partner Microsoft, announced Sunday evening that Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman would join the tech giant to lead a new “advanced AI research team.” Nadella’s statement seemed to suggest that other members of the startup would join Microsoft.
By hiring Altman and Brockman amid the chaos at the helm of OpenAI, Microsoft managed to acquire one of the most successful management teams in artificial intelligence without having to buy the company, whose valuation before the chaos was 86 billion dollars.
“Satya now looks like one of the most epic kingmakers,” says Nathan Benaich, founder and general partner of Air Street Capital and author of the State of AI report.
At least three other senior researchers – Jakub Pachocki, Aleksander Mądry and Szymon Sidor – have reportedly left OpenAI.
“The head, arms and one of the legs [of OpenAI] went to Microsoft,” says tech analyst Azeem Azhar, author of the newsletter. Exponential view. “This is a huge opportunity for Microsoft because it involves Sam Altman and Greg Brockman and probably a lot of the management team, as well as many of the best engineers and researchers.”
At Microsoft, Altman and Brockman will have access to huge amounts of capital and computing power, Azhar says, as well as support from the tech giant to develop other parts of the AI technology stack, including chips and consumer electronics. Altman would have been trying to raise billions of dollars of investors for a new chip project in the weeks before his dismissal. Altman and OpenAI also had been linked to a hardware venture with former Apple design chief Jony Ive, who reportedly hoped to build the “AI iPhone,” backed by Softbank’s Masayoshi Son.
“I am on [Microsoft] will give Sam the latitude to move up and down the stack,” Azhar says. “Microsoft itself develops its own AI chips. Well, Altman’s group can probably help in this area now, and they will develop consumer electronics like surface computers and such. Sam can now start moving in that direction thanks to this group.