Home » Will Sam Altman Return? Microsoft’s CEO Answers The Question About OpenAI’s Future

Will Sam Altman Return? Microsoft’s CEO Answers The Question About OpenAI’s Future

by Jack B.
Sam Altman

Since its founding in 2015, OpenAI has established itself as a leader in artificial intelligence research and development. Under the guidance of co-founder and former CEO Sam Altman, the nonprofit made significant breakthroughs that advanced the state of AI.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made it apparent in comments on CNBC and Bloomberg TV that Sam Altman, who was removed from his position as CEO of OpenAI on Friday by the AI startup’s board of directors, would rejoin OpenAI in a different capacity.

That’s in spite of Altman’s announcement this morning that he planned to join ex-OpenAI president Greg Brockman and a number of former OpenAI researchers in a newly established AI research unit at Microsoft.

Some reports indicate disagreements arose with the board over the company’s long-term direction and governance structure. Publicly, Altman cited a desire to shift focus purely to research. Yet insiders suggest diverging views on monetization strategies contributed as well.


Additionally, Nadella stated that Microsoft would like to see “something change around the governance” at OpenAI in the future, referring to investor relations among other things. (Microsoft is reported to have been informed of Altman’s firing “minutes” prior to its public release, as are the majority of OpenAI’s staff members and other backers.) The board of OpenAI is part of a nonprofit organization that oversees the company; investors, such as Microsoft, who has invested over $10 billion in OpenAI so far, are not represented on this board.

Whatever the root cause, the sudden change left many inside and outside the organization perplexed. Under Altman’s guidance, OpenAI made impressive strides, including the groundbreaking GPT-3 model. As such, losing Altman threatened to unsettle progress and morale at a pivotal time.

Against this backdrop, Nadella’s recent comments reintroduced uncertainty. Though Altman might now lead a new research group at Microsoft, his commitment to continued cooperation on beneficial AI through OpenAI means much. Whether he ultimately returns formally or informally, his stabilizing influence could help bring the organization back to its founding mission focused exclusively on progress.

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