Microsoft Offers to Absorb Any Resigning OpenAI Workers Amid AI Talent Shortage

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in front of the company's logo.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Stephen Brashear / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • Microsoft offered to hire and match compensation for any OpenAI workers who resign after former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman was fired from the startup and hired by Microsoft.
  • More than 500 OpenAI employees signed a letter saying that they would quit from OpenAI unless OpenAI's current board resigns and Altman is reinstated.
  • Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff also said that the company would take on any OpenAI researchers who resigned and match their compensation.
  • The offers come amid a shortage of AI talent, with three-quarters of employers reporting that hiring AI-skilled talent is a priority saying they cannot meet their AI-related talent needs, according to a study by?Amazon Web Services?and research firm Access Partnership.

Microsoft is offering to hire any employees of ChatGPT maker OpenAI who resign after former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman was ousted from the startup and hired by Microsoft, as companies compete for artificial intelligence (AI) talent amid a boom in demand for AI tech.

Microsoft Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Kevin Scott said in a X post Tuesday that OpenAI employees "have a role at Microsoft that matches your compensation and advances our collective mission."

The offer comes after more than 500 OpenAI employees signed a letter threatening to quit OpenAI and follow Altman to Microsoft unless all remaining OpenAI board members resign and Sam Altman is reinstated.

Shares of Microsoft climbed to a record high Monday after it said Altman was joining Microsoft, underlining the value that leading AI talent holds as big tech companies such as Amazon (AMZN), Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL), and Meta (META) compete for market share in the AI space.

"If Microsoft lost Altman he could have gone to Amazon, Google, Apple, or a host of other tech companies craving to get the face of AI globally in their doors," Wedbush analysts said, noting that with Altman leading Microsoft's AI team they "expect many key scientists and developers to leave OpenAI and head directly to Microsoft."

Microsoft was not the only tech company to jump at the opportunity to absorb OpenAI's workers, as Salesforce (CRM) CEO Marc Benioff said Salesforce would match the compensation of any OpenAI researchers who resigned.

Staffing challenges related to AI talent extend across fields, with McKinsey finding that "the shortage of qualified talent has been a persistent limiting factor in the growth of many high-tech fields, including AI."

While 73% of employers say that hiring AI-skilled talent is a priority, three-quarters of those employers indicated they've had trouble meeting their needs amid an AI talent shortage, according to a recent study by Amazon Web Services and research firm Access Partnership.

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  1. X Platform. “@kevin_scott, 9:31 a.m., Nov. 21, 2023."

  2. Wedbush. "The OpenAI Circus Show Continues As Pressure Builds; MSFT Wins Either Way."

  3. X Platform. “@Benioff, 3:16 p.m., Nov. 20, 2023."

  4. McKinsey. "McKinsey Technology Trends Outlook 2023."

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