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Microsoft CEO open to Sam Altman’s return to OpenAI

Microsoft CEO open to Sam Altman's return to OpenAI

The removal of Sam Altman from his position as the CEO of OpenAI announced on Friday, November 17, caused major concerns among investors, displeasure at Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), and a revolt within the artificial intelligence (AI) company.

The situation seemingly received a resolution on Monday morning when the CEO and Chairman of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, announced that his company hired Altman to lead an internal AI team. The story, however, apparently continued developing on Tuesday, November 21, as Microsoft’s CEO signaled his openness to Altman’s return to OpenAI, per a Bloomberg report.

The decision is likely a result of significant pressure stemming from OpenAI employees who are threatening to leave the company en masse unless Altman is reinstated. The workers at the AI technology company are also reportedly demanding that the entire board resign.

The turmoil at OpenAI

The firing of Sam Altman from his role as the CEO and of Greg Brockman from the board caused an uproar. By Monday, at least 500 employees of the company threatened to leave unless the two were reinstated, and by Tuesday the number had risen to 700.

We, the undersigned, may choose to resign from OpenAI and join the newly announced Microsoft subsidiary run by Sam Altman and Greg Brockman. We will take this step imminently, unless all current board members resign … and reinstates Sam Altman and Greg Brockman.

– the employees said in the letter.

At the same time, the decision – caused by Altman’s unwillingness to communicate openly with the board per the official statement – displeased Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft. 

The decision also dramatically affected Microsoft’s shares, which dropped sharply on Friday as soon as the decision to fire Altman was published. Similarly, after Nadella announced that OpenAI’s former CEO was coming to work at Microsoft, the tech giant’s shares started rising significantly.

MSFT 1-day price chart for Friday, November 17. Source: Finbold

Microsoft remains committed to OpenAI’s success

A likely reason for Nedalla’s openness toward Altman’s return is that his firm has a vested interest in the future thriving of OpenAI as it has invested more than $13 billion in the artificial intelligence firm since 2019.

The desire to reduce the impact of the leadership change can also be seen in Nadella’s Monday announcement posted on X, in which he also expressed his eagerness to work with the new management of OpenAI.

Similarly, Altman himself has affirmed this commitment in various posts he has been making on X since Monday morning.

OpenAI’s competitors seeking to take advantage of the turmoil

In response to the turmoil at OpenAI, the CEO of Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), Marc Benioff, invited all disgruntled researchers of the artificial intelligence company to apply for a job at his firm. He promised that Salesforce would match their previous salaries and work at the company’s Einstein AI team.

Finally, OpenAI has itself reached out to one of its main competitors – Anthropic – about a potential merger of the two companies, according to a report published by The Information on Monday, November 20.

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