Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, who were the former CEO and president of OpenAI, respectively, will join Microsoft along with some of their colleagues from the organization. They will lead a new advanced AI research team within Microsoft, according to a statement by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on X, formerly Twitter.
“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,” Nadella said.
Altman and Brockman are well-known in the AI community for their roles in founding and leading OpenAI, which was established in 2015 with the backing of several prominent tech figures, such as Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and Reid Hoffman. The organization’s mission is to create and ensure the safe and beneficial use of AGI, a hypothetical form of AI that can perform any intellectual task that humans can.
Under their leadership, OpenAI produced several groundbreaking AI systems, such as GPT-2 and GPT-4, the large-scale language models that power ChatGPT. OpenAI also developed DALL-E, a generative model that can create images from text descriptions, and Codex, a system that can write code from natural language commands.
However, Altman was suddenly fired by the board of OpenAI on November 17 without notice. Brockman resigned shortly after, expressing his solidarity with Altman and his dissatisfaction with the board’s decision. The board then appointed Emmett Shear, the co-founder of Twitch, as the interim CEO of OpenAI.
Nadella did not reveal any specific details about the new advanced AI research team that Altman and Brockman will lead, but he said that they will bring their expertise and vision to Microsoft’s AI research. He also said that Microsoft remains committed to OpenAI and its new leadership.
“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 added.
The hiring of Altman and Brockman comes at a time when AI is becoming increasingly important and competitive, and Microsoft wants to stay ahead of the curve. Microsoft faces fierce competition from other tech giants, such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook, as well as from emerging players, such as Huawei, Alibaba, and ByteDance, in developing and deploying AI solutions and services.
Microsoft has been investing heavily in AI research and development, as well as in acquiring AI startups and talent. In 2018, Microsoft acquired GitHub, the largest online platform for software developers, for $7.5 billion. In 2019, Microsoft acquired Semantic Machines, a conversational AI company. In 2020, Microsoft acquired Nuance Communications, a leader in speech recognition and natural language processing, for $19.7 billion.
Microsoft has also been collaborating with OpenAI since 2019, when it announced a $1 billion investment in the organization and a partnership to jointly build new AI technologies on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. In 2020, Microsoft and OpenAI announced that they had co-developed Azure AI Supercomputer, one of the most powerful AI systems in the world.
Featured image: Sam Altman X account