Latest Global News | Sam Altman joins Microsoft to lead new AI project as OpenAI employees voice displeasure with board

The future of OpenAI appeared to remain in limbo Monday morning, after its ousted CEO Sam Altman joined Microsoft following a weekend of boardroom drama that sent shock waves across Silicon Valley.

Altman will lead a new artificial intelligence project at Microsoft, the tech giant said early Monday, after rumors swirled that he could make a dramatic return to the company he helped build into one of the world’s hottest startups.

Emmett Shear, a co-founder and former CEO of the video streaming platform Twitch, confirmed that he would be the new interim CEO of OpenAI.

Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella announced the Altman hire on X just before 3 a.m. ET, more than 48 hours after OpenAI’s board of directors said they “no longer had confidence” in Altman — a leading figure in the tech industry’s efforts to grapple with the promise and potential dangers of AI.

Microsoft is a major financial backer of OpenAI, and has invested billions since its first funding deal in 2019. Since then, OpenAI has become the most visible of a new generation of AI companies — its ChatGPT, a large language model chatbot, is widely used and has become a symbol of everyday AI innovation.

But that appears to have done little to quell the unease of OpenAI employees who are upset with the board’s moves. Many posted the phrase “OpenAI is nothing without its people” to X early Monday, and journalist Kara Swisher reported that many of the company’s employees had signed on to a letter calling for OpenAI’s board to resign. NBC News has not confirmed that reporting.

Ilya Sutskever, a board member and co-founder of OpenAI, posted to X that he regretted his role in Altman’s exit.

He appeared to imply there were ongoing efforts to bring Altman back.

“I love everything we’ve built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company,” he wrote.

Altman quoted that post, adding three hearts.

Nadella said Microsoft was still committed to supporting OpenAI, which now has a new leadership team, while confirming that Altman will lead a “new advanced AI research team,” alongside OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman, who was pushed off the company’s board and later quit as its president Friday.

“We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success,” Nadella said.

Altman reshared the post, adding: “The mission continues.”

OpenAI said it cut ties with him after a review found he was “not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities.”

Brockman said Friday in a post to X that he and Altman were “shocked and saddened” by the board’s decision, but added “greater things coming soon.”

CNBC reported Sunday that some OpenAI investors were pushing for Altman to be brought back, after chief technology officer Mira Murati was named interim CEO.

But Shear confirmed on X early Monday that he would instead be leading OpenAI.

He laid out a plan for his first 30 days, including hiring an independent investigator “to dig into the entire process leading up to this point and generate a full report.”

Shear said that “OpenAI’s stability and success are too important to allow turmoil to disrupt them like this,” adding that “I have nothing but respect for what Sam and the entire OpenAI team have built.”

OpenAI was this year ranked number 1 in CNBC’s Disruptor 50 list of the most impressive and fastest-growing private companies. The company rose to prominence last year when it released ChatGPT to the public, allowing people to generate complex and detailed responses to simple text questions and prompts.