Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, and OpenAI Staff Will Join Microsoft

As the tech world watches Microsoft suck in top execs and AI engineering talent from OpenAI, the generative AI giant in which it already holds a minority stake worth several billion dollars, one question to consider is what, if anything, can competition regulators do about the visible flight of AI expertise and value into Microsoft’s commercial empire? TechCrunch reported.

According to TechCrunch, efforts by the OpenAI board to reinstate CEO Sam Altman immediately after ejecting him were reported over the weekend to have failed – with Altman opting to join Microsoft, along with president Greg Brockman and several leading AI engineers, as CEO of a new AI research division it’s spinning up. Which suggests the back-up plan is to recreate OpenAI in-house at Microsoft.

TechCrunch reported that a mass exodus of OpenAI staff to Microsoft also looks entirely possible – with hundreds of staffers signing a letter saying they “may” quit unless the startup’s board resigns and reappoints Altman and Brockman, along with two new independent directors.

CNBC reported that OpenAI is bringing in former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear to run the artificial intelligence company, two days after the sudden ouster of Sam Altman.

The hiring of Shear was the latest turn in a chaotic weekend at one of the most high-profile startups on the planet. OpenAI’s board announced late Friday that it was removing Altman and replacing him on an interim basis with technology chief Mira Murati. The post said that Altman “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board.” Altman will now be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team.

According to CNBC, Shear confirmed overnight that he had accepted the role as interim CEO of OpenAI, which he described as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“I took this job because I believe that OpenAI is one of the most important companies currently in existence. When the board shared the situation and asked me to take the role, I did not make the decision lightly. Ultimately, I felt that I had a duty to help if I could,” he said.

Altman, meanwhile, is set to join Microsoft where he will lead a new advanced AI research team, Microsoft CEO Satay Nadella said late Sunday.

“We’re extremely excited to share the news that Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, together with colleagues, will be joining Microsoft… We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources they need for their success,” Nadella said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

The Verge reported that Microsoft typically only assigns a CEO title to leaders or big businesses inside the software giant. Xbox chief Phil Spencer was named Microsoft Gaming CEO recently, with Microsoft using or continuing CEO positions for a number of acquisitions, including GitHub, LinkedIn, Mojang, and Activision Blizzard. This could hint at bigger plans for Microsoft’s new advanced AI research team.

Personally, I find it amazing just how fast Sam Altman went from being fired to becoming an important part of Microsoft. I wonder how many of the OpenAI team, who want both Altman and Brockman back, will make the move to Microsoft.