The OpenAI soap opera, which began on Friday with the unexpected dismissal of its boss Sam Altman, experienced a major rebound this Monday morning. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has announced that the co-founder and former CEO of OpenAI will join the American group to lead a new advanced research team on artificial intelligence. OpenAI is the company behind the chatbot ChatGPT, launched last year.
The most famous face in the AI industry will be accompanied by Greg Brockman, president of OpenAI dismissed on Friday, “as well as other colleagues,” announced Satya Nadella. On X, several employees and members of management published the message “OpenAI is nothing without its employees”, a sign that they are preparing to resign to join Sam Altman at Microsoft. Among them, Mira Murati, director of technology and short-lived interim general manager, and Brad Lightcap, director of operations. Several researchers have also announced their departure.
Also readThe crazy 48 hours surrounding the fate of the “father of ChatGPT”, Sam Altman, at OpenAI
“I'm very excited to see you become the leader of this new entity, Sam. We've learned over the years how to give founders and innovators enough space to build independent entities and cultures within Microsoft, as with GitHub, Mojang Studio [creator of the Minecraft video game, editor’s note] and LinkedIn,” continued the CEO of Microsoft. “The mission continues,” reacted to this announcement Sam Altman, 38, on the social network X.
This announcement came following a breathtaking weekend, where OpenAI investors tried to use all their weight to force the administrators to bring Sam Altman back in charge, then to resign. The negotiations, which took place at the company's headquarters on Sunday in the presence of the entrepreneur, ended in failure.
Another surprise this Monday morning: the OpenAI board of directors chose Emmett Shear, former boss of the video platform Twitch (Amazon), as its new interim leader. “I accepted this position because I believe OpenAI is one of the most important companies there is today,” he wrote, while pledging for the next 30 days to clarify the reasons for the departure of Sam Altman and to “reform the management team (...) to make it a force capable of obtaining results for our clients”.
Satya Nadella said in his statement that his teams were “looking forward to getting to know and working with Emmett Shear and the new OpenAI leadership team.” Microsoft has invested more than $10 billion in OpenAI and has integrated its technologies into its own products, such as the Bing search engine or the Microsoft 365 office suite.
The OpenAI board of directors created a surprise on Friday by announcing the dismissal with immediate effect of Sam Altman following “a deliberative review procedure by the board, which concluded that he had not always been frank in his communications with the council, hindering his ability to fulfill his responsibilities.
This body no longer has “confidence in its ability to lead OpenAI,” she then added. Several managers of the company founded at the end of 2015 have since announced their resignation.
The board of directors reports to the non-profit OpenAI Foundation, which oversees its commercial arm OpenAI LT. Its mission is to ensure that the company never deviates from its original mission, established in 2015: to create safe artificial intelligence for the benefit of humanity. No OpenAI investors are represented on this board, which until now was made up of Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, research director Ilya Sutskever and several independent directors.
The first version of ChatGPT going live on November 30, 2022 kicked off a race in artificial intelligence (AI). Widely considered a revolution comparable to the advent of the internet, generative AI makes it possible to produce texts, lines of code, images and sounds upon simple request in everyday language. It also raises serious concerns about the dangers for democracy (massive disinformation) or employment (replaced professions), in particular.