Tech & Telecoms

Microsoft Surges After It Swoops on OpenAI’s Altman and Brockman

Microsoft shares hit a record high on Wall Street following the news that it has hired Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, the two co-founders of OpenAI, who were fired by the board on Friday.

On Monday, Altman joined the second-most valuable company in the world (market cap of $2.8 trillion) as head of artificial intelligence research, along with former OpenAI president Brockman and other staff.

Altman has been the human face of the artificial intelligence company that has been all the rage over the past year following the launch of ChatGPT. He was also a key figure in Microsoft becoming one of the biggest investors in OpenAI.

In a post on X, Brockman said that he and Altman would be joined at Microsoft by three OpenAI researchers: Jakub Pachocki, Szymon Sidor, and Aleksander Madry.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella confirmed the news of Altman and others moving to his company in a tweet, saying: “We’re extremely excited to share the news that Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, together with colleagues, will be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team. We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success.”

In a post on X, Altman added, “Satya and my top priority remains to ensure OpenAI continues to thrive. We are committed to fully providing continuity of operations to our partners and customers. The OpenAI/Microsoft partnership makes this very doable.

“We have more unity and commitment, and focus than ever before. we are all going to work together some way or other, and I’m so excited. One team, one mission.”

In Monday’s trading on Nasdaq, Microsoft closed up more than 2 percent at 377.44, adding nearly $30 billion to its market cap.

With Microsoft and Nvidia rising, Wall Street’s three major stock averages closed higher, with Nasdaq’s 1 percent rally leading the charge as it reached its highest closing level since July 31. The S&P 500 registered its highest close since August 1.

OpenAI names new interim CEO

Also on Monday, OpenAI named ex-Twitch CEO Emmett Shear as its interim CEO. The announcement more or less confirmed that Altman was not coming back to OpenAI. Shear founded the live video streaming platform in 2006 before it was acquired by Amazon for nearly $1 billion in 2014.

Shear, in a long post on X, said he planned to hire an independent investigator to review the details before and after Altman’s dismissal. He also committed to gathering insight from employees, partners, and investors that he said would inform how he rebuilds the company’s leadership team.

“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 on the role, I did not make the decision lightly. Ultimately, I felt that I had a duty to help if I could,” Shear said in the post.

The good news for Shear is that Nadella said in his tweet that Microsoft will continue to work with OpenAI.

“We remain committed to our partnership with OpenAI and have confidence in our product roadmap, our ability to continue to innovate with everything we announced at Microsoft Ignite, and in continuing to support our customers and partners. We look forward to getting to know Emmett Shear and OAI’s new leadership team and working with them,” Nadella said.

The bad news, though, even as OpenAI was finalising its deal with Shear, is that more than 700 employees signed a letter saying they may leave the company if Altman was not reinstalled.

The letter said Microsoft had assured the employees that there were positions for them all if they chose to join its new AI subsidiary to be headed by Altman.

Ilya Sutskever, one of OpenAI co-founders and the company’s chief scientist, expressed regret in being part of the decision to oust Altman.

In an X post, Sutskever wrote: “I deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we’ve built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company.”


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