Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has hinted at the possibility of Sam Altman's return to OpenAI. This speculation follows Altman's sudden chaotic dismissal from his role as CEO by OpenAI's board of directors and a tumultuous weekend where the future of OpenAI became increasingly unclear.
Just yesterday, Nadella sent a tweet suggesting Altman would be joining Microsoft has part of a new elite AI team. However, there are some reports this is just a ploy to get Altman back to OpenAI. Either way, the message from Nadella seems to be he is happy with either outcome and supports Altman in all scenarios.
Nadella's Insight on OpenAI's Future
During interviews on CNBC and Bloomberg TV, Nadella expressed openness to various outcomes regarding Altman's future involvement with OpenAI. He stated, “Obviously, we want Sam and Greg [Brockman] to have a fantastic home if they're not going to be in OpenAI.” Nadella's comments suggest a fluid situation, with the decision ultimately resting with OpenAI's board and management. He also highlighted Microsoft's partnership with OpenAI and its dependence on the organization's personnel decisions.
Governance and Employee Backlash at OpenAI
The situation at OpenAI has been tumultuous since Altman's firing. Nadella emphasized the need for changes in governance at OpenAI, particularly concerning investor relations. This statement comes amidst reports of Microsoft, a major investor in OpenAI, being informed of Altman's dismissal mere minutes before it was publicized.
The internal response at OpenAI has been equally dramatic. Over 700 of the company's approximately 770 employees, including chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, have signed a letter demanding the board's resignation and Altman's reinstatement. This unrest has led to Salesforce attempting to poach OpenAI researchers by offering matching compensation.
The board's choice of Emmett Shear, Twitch co-founder, as a potential CEO replacement has further fueled internal controversy. Reports indicate that OpenAI employees refused to attend an emergency meeting with Shear, expressing their dissatisfaction openly on the company's Slack channel. As reported by the BBC, Altman is seeking concessions if he was to return to lead the company. Chief among them was the removal of the remaining four board members.