OpenAI Employees Threaten Mass Resignation as Microsoft Scoops Up CEO Altman
Less than 72 hours after the board of OpenAI ousted CEO Sam Altman, more than 500 employees of the company have threatened to quit unless the board steps down and reinstates Altman. The employees seem to have jobs waiting for them at Microsoft, as the tech giant has recruited Altman and Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s former president, to lead a new advanced AI research team.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella expressed his excitement about the new hires, stating that Microsoft looks forward to providing them with the resources they need for success. Following Altman’s dismissal, Microsoft’s shares initially slipped in after-hours trading but have since recovered and rose by 2.05% in Monday’s session.
The mass resignation threat reveals a lot about Altman’s reputation and the trust employees place in him. As a public-facing CEO, Altman has been commended for his outreach to regulators and world leaders, establishing a reputation for friendliness and cooperation that some other tech leaders lack. Altman’s mentorship experience at Y Combinator, where he listened to the needs of startup founders, sets him apart from many other tech CEOs.
Altman’s ability to think about the future and his commitment to building it have been recognized by experts. Luis Videgaray, a professor at MIT Sloan and former finance minister of Mexico, has spoken highly of Altman’s insights and forward-thinking mindset.
The exact reasons behind Altman’s dismissal from OpenAI remain unclear. Reports suggest that Altman had been in discussions with Jony Ive, Apple’s former chief design officer, about creating an AI hardware device. He was also reportedly seeking investors for a chip company. OpenAI, known for its advanced AI chatbots, had been in talks to raise funds that would value the company at $80 billion, making it a prime target for competitors in the tech industry.
While OpenAI names Emmett Shear, the former CEO of Twitch, as interim CEO, Microsoft’s swift recruitment of Altman raises the question of whether the tech giant could absorb all of OpenAI’s talent. In a letter to the board, OpenAI employees revealed that Microsoft had offered positions to all of them on the new research team. Given Microsoft’s hefty investments into OpenAI, the company has a vested interest in retaining top AI talent within its ecosystem.
Amidst the management upheaval at OpenAI, competitors and tech startup founders have capitalized on the turmoil by posting reminders about open positions and job opportunities, while Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has extended an employment offer to any OpenAI researcher. The support for Altman from OpenAI employees and Silicon Valley figures on social media has been overwhelming, despite uncertainty surrounding the board’s decision.
OpenAI’s new interim CEO, Shear, emphasizes the importance of OpenAI’s mission and notes that the partnership with Microsoft remains strong.
The situation at OpenAI serves as an opportunity for competitors to catch up, especially given the significant support and job offers pouring in for Altman and OpenAI employees. As the tech industry continues to race towards AI dominance, the outcome of this management shake-up could reshape the landscape of AI research and development.