Despite Satya Nadella’s announcement, OpenAI’s former CEO Sam Altman is not officially with Microsoft just yet. In fact, he is still pursuing his previous role at OpenAI.
Multiple resources available to The Verge have claimed that Sam Altman and Greg Brockman (previously chairman and president at OpenAI) are still willing to return to the AI company, but only if the board steps down.
The news comes shortly after nearly all of OpenAI’s employees threatened to leave the company and join Microsoft unless the board steps aside and brings back Altman and Brockman.
Even Ilya Sutskever, board member and chief scientist at OpenAI, who led to the initial move to depose Altman, has switched sides. He expressed “deep regret” over his actions on Twitter (now called X).
I deeply regret my participation in the board's actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we've built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company.
— Ilya Sutskever (@ilyasut) November 20, 2023
This means good news for Altman, as now there is more pressure than ever on OpenAI’s board, with only two of the three remaining members required to jump ship.
Altman has also indicated that the fight to return as OpenAI’s CEO continues. His latest tweet says “We are all going to work together some way or other.”
we have more unity and commitment and focus than ever before.
we are all going to work together some way or other, and i’m so excited.
one team, one mission.
— Sam Altman (@sama) November 20, 2023
Altman, along with former president Brockman and the company’s investors, are actively seeking a smooth exit for the board, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.
The sources describe the hiring announcement by Microsoft as a “holding pattern,” emphasizing the urgency to resolve the crisis before the stock market opens on Monday.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also recently confirmed that Altman and Brockman joining Microsoft was never finalized. Nadella appeared in an interview with Bloomberg TV and CNBC where he was asked whether the former OpenAI CEO would join Microsoft, to which he said “That is for the OpenAI board and management and employees to choose.”
He also added: “[Microsoft] chose to explicitly partner with OpenAI [and] obviously that depends on the people at OpenAI staying there or coming to Microsoft, so I’m open to both options.”
Furthermore, Nadella also agrees that the current OpenAI board needs to step down, saying that Microsoft will “definitely want some governance changes. This idea that changes happen without being in the loop is not good.”