Updated Nov 20, 2023 - Technology

Microsoft hires Sam Altman and Greg Brockman to lead new AI research unit

Photo of Sam Altman and Satya Nadella on stage with the OpenAI logo behind them.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (R) greets OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In the latest twist in a weekend of AI-related drama, Microsoft has hired ousted OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and former OpenAI president Greg Brockman to lead a new research unit, CEO Satya Nadella announced late Sunday night.

Why it matters: Microsoft has been OpenAI's largest investor and partner and has used its products to form the core of its Copilot products.

What they're 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," Nadella said in posts on X (formerly Twitter) and LinkedIn. "We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success."

  • Altman, for his part, posted simply: "the mission continues."
  • Nadella responded, saying he was "super excited" to have Altman as join as CEO of the new group. "We've learned a lot over the years about how to give founders and innovators space to build independent identities and cultures within Microsoft, including GitHub, Mojang Studios, and LinkedIn, and I'm looking forward to having you do the same," he added.
  • Brockman later posted that they "are going to build something new & it will be incredible," adding that the initial team also includes Jakub Pachocki, Szymon Sidor, and Aleksander Madry. All three resigned on Friday.

The big picture: The move comes after OpenAI named former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear as its interim CEO, denying a push from employees and investors to rehire Altman and Brockman.

Yes, but: Microsoft also reiterated its commitment to 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," Nadella said. "We look forward to getting to know Emmett Shear and OAI's new leadership team and working with them."

What to watch: Who else leaves OpenAI to join the renegade team at Microsoft — and who leaves to go elsewhere.

Editor's note: The story has been updated with more details about the former OpenAI staff also joining Microsoft.

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