In a surprising turn of events, Microsoft has announced the recruitment of former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman to lead its groundbreaking advanced AI research team. The move follows Altman’s abrupt departure from OpenAI after the board expressed a loss of confidence in his leadership abilities. Despite initial negotiations to bring Altman back to OpenAI, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed that both Altman and Brockman would be instrumental in steering Microsoft’s foray into cutting-edge AI research.
New Leadership at Microsoft’s Advanced AI Research Team
Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, expressed excitement about the addition of Altman and Brockman to the company’s leadership. Nadella stated, “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. We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success.”
The decision to appoint Altman as the CEO of this new group indicates Microsoft’s commitment to establishing a robust presence in the AI research landscape. The company has a history of assigning CEO titles to leaders of significant business units within the organization, such as the recent appointment of Phil Spencer as Microsoft Gaming CEO.
OpenAI Talent Joins the Fray
Greg Brockman, in a tweet, unveiled that the new AI research team at Microsoft would not only be led by Altman and himself but would also include key talent from OpenAI. Jakub Pachocki, the director of research at OpenAI, is set to take up an undisclosed leadership position within Microsoft’s advanced AI research team. Additionally, OpenAI research scientist Szymon Sidor and head of preparedness Aleksander Madry will also be joining Microsoft in leadership roles.
Brockman’s tweet hinted at the ambitious nature of their plans, stating, “We are going to build something new & it will be incredible.” The inclusion of OpenAI talent underscores Microsoft’s eagerness to leverage the expertise of individuals who have played a pivotal role in shaping OpenAI’s success.
Altman’s Negotiations with OpenAI Board Fail
Altman’s hiring by Microsoft occurred after unsuccessful negotiations with OpenAI’s board to reinstate him as CEO. The former CEO had reportedly been pitching a startup named “Tigris” to investors, aiming to develop custom AI Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) chips as a potential rival to Nvidia. This project attracted significant interest, including attention from Microsoft.
Microsoft’s recent announcement of its custom AI chip adds an intriguing layer to Altman’s involvement, especially considering that OpenAI had been collaborating with Microsoft to refine and test the Maia AI chip. While Microsoft downplayed the impact on its partnership with Nvidia, the development hints at potential advancements in Microsoft’s AI capabilities.
Microsoft’s Investment in OpenAI Remains Strong
Despite the leadership shakeup at OpenAI, Microsoft reaffirmed its commitment to its partnership with the organization. Microsoft has a “multibillion dollar investment” in OpenAI, estimated to be around $10 billion. As the exclusive cloud partner for OpenAI, Microsoft’s cloud services power all OpenAI workloads across products, API services, and research.
Satya Nadella emphasized Microsoft’s confidence in the product roadmap and its ability to continue innovating. He stated, “We look forward to getting to know Emmett Shear and OAI’s new leadership team and working with them.”
The Path Forward for Microsoft’s AI Research
Microsoft’s move to assemble a dedicated advanced AI research team, led by Altman and Brockman, comes at a time when the company is making strides in custom silicon development. The recent unveiling of its own custom AI chip designed for training large language models signals Microsoft’s commitment to reducing reliance on external providers, particularly Nvidia.
In addition to the AI chip, Microsoft has also developed its Arm-based CPU for cloud workloads, showcasing a comprehensive approach to advancing its capabilities in artificial intelligence. The strategic hiring of Altman and Brockman, along with key OpenAI talent, suggests that Microsoft has broader plans for the future of AI research within the company.
Microsoft’s acquisition of OpenAI leadership underscores the dynamic nature of the tech industry and the continuous evolution of artificial intelligence. The collaboration between the two entities, along with the infusion of OpenAI talent, positions Microsoft at the forefront of AI research and development.
As the newly formed advanced AI research team takes shape, the tech community awaits further details on the team’s objectives and the groundbreaking innovations it aims to bring to the field of artificial intelligence. With Sam Altman and Greg Brockman at the helm, Microsoft seems poised to make significant strides in AI research, potentially reshaping the industry landscape in the process.