Microsoft Taps Former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman to Lead New AI Team and Shares Rise

Sam Altman

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  • Microsoft hired Sam Altman as head of a new artificial intelligence research team after he was fired as CEO of ChatGPT maker OpenAI.
  • Employees wrote a letter to OpenAI's board threatening to follow Sam Altman to Microsoft if the board does not resign and reinstate Altman.
  • Microsoft is OpenAI's biggest shareholder and has invested $13 billion into the startup.
  • Microsoft shares, which had fallen after OpenAI announced Altman's departure, were up 1.5% in early trading on Monday.

Microsoft (MSFT) said it hired Sam Altman to lead an advanced artificial intelligence (AI) research team after he was fired as CEO from ChatGPT maker OpenAI, and shares rose in early trading Monday.

Former OpenAI President and Board Chair Greg Brockman, who had also been asked to step down from his position and quit OpenAI, has joined Microsoft along with Altman. Other OpenAI colleagues suggested they would follow them to Microsoft as well.

Over 500 of 700 OpenAI employees, including co-founder and board member Ilya Sutskever and former interim CEO Mira Murati, reportedly wrote a letter to OpenAI's board threatening to resign and join Sam Altman's team at Microsoft, demanding Altman’s reinstatement and the resignation of OpenAI’s remaining board members.

In a post on LinkedIn, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “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," adding, “we look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success.”

Microsoft has invested $13 billion into OpenAI and represents its biggest shareholder, with a stake of about 49%.

Nadella also said the company is also looking forward to getting to know and work with former Twitch CEO Emmet Shear, who has taken over as OpenAI's interim CEO, as well as the rest of OpenAI's new leadership team.

Shares of Microsoft, which had fallen after Altman's departure from OpenAI was announced on Friday, were up 1.5% in early trading Monday after Microsoft said he would join the company.

Correction—Nov. 20, 2023: This story was updated to include additional information about a letter from OpenAI employees to OpenAI’s board.

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  1. LinkedIn. "Satya Nadella."

  2. X Platform. “@karaswisher, 8:48 a.m. Nov. 20, 2023.”

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