Microsoft to hire Sam Altman as new OpenAI CEO vows to investigate firing

The new head of ChatGPT maker OpenAI said Monday he will launch an investigation into co-founder Sam Altman's firing, which shocked the artificial intelligence world and led to Microsoft ousting the CEO of the new AI venture.

The developments come after a weekend of drama and speculation about how the power dynamic will shake out at OpenAI, whose chatbot ushered in the generative AI era by producing human-like text, images, video and music.

It ended with former Twitch head Emmett Shear taking over as acting CEO of OpenAI, and Microsoft announcing that it was hiring Altman and OpenAI co-founder and former president Greg Brockman to join Microsoft's new Advanced AI Research Group.

Despite the rift between the main players in ChatGPT, which they helped build, both Shear and Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella tweeted that they are committed to their partnership.

Microsoft invested billions of dollars in the startup and helped provide the computing power to run its AI systems. Nadella wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he was “extremely excited” to challenge former OpenAI executives and was “looking forward” to meeting Shire and the rest of the management team.

In response to X, Altman said, “The mission continues,” while Brockman posted, “We're going to build something new, and it's going to be incredible.”

OpenAI said Friday that Altman was fired after a review found that he was “consistently not candid in his communications” with the board of directors, which had lost confidence in his ability to lead the company.

In a post on X on Monday, Scheer said he would hire an independent investigator to look into what led to Altman's ouster and write a report within 30 days.

“It is clear that the process and communications around Sam's removal went very poorly, which seriously damaged our trust,” wrote Shear, who founded Twitch, the Amazon-owned live streaming service popular with video gamers.

He said he also plans next month to “reform the management and leadership team into an effective force in light of recent departures” and talk to employees, investors and customers.

After that, Shear said he would “make changes to the organization,” including “significant governance changes as needed.” He noted that the reason for Altman's removal from the board was not a “specific safety disagreement.”

OpenAI last week declined to answer questions about Altman's alleged lack of candor. His statement said his conduct impeded the council's ability to carry out its responsibilities.

An OpenAI spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Monday. A Microsoft spokeswoman said the company would not comment beyond its CEO's statement.

After Altman was fired on Friday, he sparked speculation that he might return to the fold with a series of tweets. He posted a photo of himself with an OpenAI guest pass on Sunday, saying it's “the first and last time I'll ever wear one of these.”

Hours earlier, he had tweeted, “I love the openai team so much,” prompting a response from Brockman, who resigned after Altman was fired, and Mira Murat, OpenAI's chief technology officer, who was initially named as interim CEO.

It's unclear what happened between Murat's announcement of the interim role on Friday and Shire's hiring, though he was among the employees who tweeted on Monday: “OpenAI is nothing without its people.” Altman responded with many heartfelt emotions.

Shear said she stepped down as CEO of Twitch due to the birth of her now 9-month-old son, but “took the job because I believe OpenAI is one of the most important companies out there right now.”

“Ultimately, I felt it was my duty to help if I could,” he tweeted.

Altman helped catapult ChatGPT to global prominence and in the past year has become Silicon Valley's most sought-after voice on the promise and potential dangers of artificial intelligence.

He embarked on a world tour to meet with government officials earlier this year, drawing large crowds at public events as he discussed both the risks of artificial intelligence and efforts to regulate the emerging technology.

Altman posted on Friday X that he “loved my time at openai” and later called it a “weird experience.”

“If Microsoft were to lose Altman, it could go to Amazon, Google, Apple or other tech companies trying to get the face of artificial intelligence on their doorstep globally,” said Daniel Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. .

Microsoft is now in an even stronger position for AI, Ives said.

Shares of Microsoft Corp. rose nearly 2 percent before the opening bell and neared an all-time high on Monday.

The Associated Press and OpenAI have a licensing and technology agreement that allows OpenAI access to a portion of AP's text archives.


AP writer Brian PD Hannon contributed from Bangkok.