Updated Nov 18, 2023 - Technology

Microsoft is a key investor in OpenAI. It was blindsided by Sam Altman's exit.


Sam Altman and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at OpenAI's developer conference Nov. 6. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Microsoft, which has invested billions in OpenAI, learned that OpenAI was ousting CEO Sam Altman just a minute before the news was shared with the world, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Why it matters: Microsoft is ChatGPT maker OpenAI's closest partner and has deeply tied its fortunes to the AI startup, while OpenAI relies on Microsoft for funding as well as its cloud services.

Catch up quick: OpenAI announced Altman's forced departure in a press release during the business day on Friday, less than a day after he had represented the company at the APEC conference in San Francisco. CTO Mira Murati was named interim CEO.

What they're saying: "We have a long-term agreement with OpenAI with full access to everything we need to deliver on our innovation agenda and an exciting product roadmap; and remain committed to our partnership, and to Mira and the team," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a blog post.

  • OpenAI declined to comment beyond its press statement announcing Altman's exit.

Later Friday, Greg Brockman, OpenAI president and board chairman, announced he was quitting the firm.

  • Brockman, a co-founder of OpenAI, shared in a post on X, formerly Twitter, his message to the firm's staff: "I'm super proud of what we've all built together since starting in my apartment 8 year ago.... But based on today's news, I quit."
  • The company hours earlier had said he would step down as board chairman but remain as president.
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