Was Satya Nadella aware of OpenAI firing Sam Altman? Microsoft CEO replies

OpenAI, the company behind the artificial intelligence bot ChatGPT, faces a significant crisis as its board fired co-founder and chief executive Sam Altman on Friday. This move has sparked discontent, with hundreds of OpenAI staff threatening to quit, and Microsoft, its largest investor, has hired Altman.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (R) greets the then OpenAI CEO Sam Altman during the OpenAI DevDay event on November 06, 2023 in San Francisco.(AFP)

Reportedly, OpenAI did not consult Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella before the ousting, leaving him unaware of the board’s decision. Once a non-profit organization, OpenAI has attracted over $13 billion in investment from Microsoft, holding a 49 per cent stake in now the for-profit AI company.

Now, Nadella has himself revealed his stance on Sam Altman’s surprise exit.

Speaking to Bloomberg TV on whether the OpenAI board gave him any reason for firing Sam Altman, Microsoft CEO Nadella said, “I as far as I’m concerned, you know, we feel very confident in Sam and his leadership team, I have not been told about anything that they published internally at open AI. The board has not talked about anything that Sam did other than some breakdown in communications.I’ve not directly been told by anyone from their board about any issues and so therefore, I remain confident in Sam and his leadership and capability and that’s why you know, we want to welcome him to Microsoft.” the Microsoft CEO added.

OpenAI announced in a blog post on Friday that its board no longer has confidence in Altman’s ability to lead the organisation. Another co-founder and board chair Greg Brockman was also shown exit gate.

The post said that Altman “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities.”

Altman was replaced by Mira Murati, OpenAI’s chief technology officer who was initially named as interim CEO. However, her appointment remained short-lived as Twitch former CEO Emmett Shear succeeded in another surprise move.

Microsoft CEO Nadella said on Monday that Altman and Brockman, together with colleagues, will be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team.

“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 posted on.

“We look forward to getting to know Emmett Shear and OAI’s new leadership team and working with them,” Nadella wrote on X.

Altman responded, “Satya and my top priority remains to ensure OpenAI continues to thrive. We are committed to fully providing continuity of operations to our partners and customers.”

“The OpenAI/Microsoft partnership makes this very doable,” he added.

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