‘Damage control’: Tech industry reacts to chaotic weekend for OpenAI and Microsoft

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Hayden Valley | CNBC

The last few days have been chaotic for the artificial intelligence industry, with technology experts weighing in on what it could mean for the nascent sector and some of its key players.

OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT that brought AI into the mainstream late last year, said Friday it is firing its CEO Sam Altman and replacing him with technology chief Mira Murat as interim CEO.

Before the weekend was over, OpenAI appeared to have reversed course, announcing that former Twitch boss Emmett Shear would be taking over for Altman, at least temporarily.

Meanwhile, Altman himself has already found a new role leading a new advanced artificial intelligence research group at Microsoft, where he will be joined by former OpenAI board chairman Greg Brockman and several other employees.

But Altman's move may just be a case of “damage control” for Microsoft, says Richard Windsor, founder of digital research company Radio Free Mobile. This has to do with Microsoft's huge investment in OpenAI, he said on CNBC's “Street Signs Europe” on Monday.

Microsoft started investing in OpenAI in 2019, initially with around $1 billion. That figure has since grown to nearly $13 billion. Microsoft has also integrated OpenAI technologies into products such as the Bing search engine and various software.

“A lot of that value is tied up in the founders and the engineers that are inside the company,” Windsor said.

Meanwhile, other tech experts are backing Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's quick move to hire Altman.

An analyst discusses Sam Altman's ouster and the implications for Microsoft

“An incredible performance by Satya in one of the most dynamic situations in technology history,” Aaron Levy, CEO of cloud sharing and management company Box. write At X, formerly Twitter.

Venture Highway investor Aviral Bhatnagar had a similar view.

“Now you understand why Satya Nadella is one of the greatest tech CEOs of this generation,” he said. post on X.

“Keep Altman as orderly as possible, chaos and wild board decisions, not destroy OpenAI. What a boss move.”

The future of OpenAI

The chaotic events were also criticized by Shear himself, the new CEO of OpenAI.

“It's clear that the process and communications around Sam's withdrawal were very poor, which seriously damaged our trust,” he said. post X, formerly of Twitter, where he also confirmed that he will step in as interim CEO.

Shir proposed that an investigation be launched to investigate the process that led to the recent events and to prepare a report on them within the first thirty days at OpenAI.

This was echoed by experts, including Windsor, who said the situation could seriously damage the company's reputation and undermine public confidence in the company.

Microsoft's relationship with OpenAI