Microsoft’s Satya Nadella is surely a tech coach of the AI world. While the OpenAI drama was unfolding with Microsoft shares on the slide, he somehow managed to catch up with the Cricket World Cup finals, and put a stop to all the chaos.
In a recent conversation with Kara Swisher, Nadella discusses the OpenAI soap opera, talking about India-Australia Men’s ODI Cricket World Cup finals, and if he would be interested in buying the Australian cricket team.
“That would be like buying OpenAI,” quipped Nadella, saying that none of these things can be accomplished. “But we can partner well with OpenAI and watch Aussies play cricket.” That explains why he hired five of the best players from OpenAI, instead of acquiring the company. Does that make Microsoft the new OpenAI?
Just when you thought that OpenAI drama was all over, things are taking a very interesting turn. A few hours after Sam Altman joined Microsoft to be the CEO of their new AI research team, OpenAI wants him back. But all of that is in the dust again, as Nadella confirmed that Altman is going to lead the new AI division within Microsoft. Nadella is reinforcing this with multiple interviews, clearing the air once and for all.
Altman has confirmed this.
OpenAI is nothing without its people
Interestingly, almost all the employees are deserting OpenAI, mostly to join Microsoft. As of now, out of the 770 employees at the company, 715 have left, some with tenuous visa situations as well.
“It’s silly to think that one company with little technology is going to make the difference. We love the partnership, but we are not single threaded,” said Nadella.
Microsoft’s entire Azure infrastructure, and all of its Copilot products and services are built around this “little tech company‘s” AI models. Moreover, Altman has repeatedly said that he loves the OpenAI team and appreciates the work that the team is doing.
It is funny to see how just a few days back at Microsoft Ignite and even the OpenAI DevDay, Nadella had highlighted how much he loves OpenAI, and wishes to continue working with them. But now that the board has decided to flip around so much with its employees, Nadella just wants to keep the talent directly under Microsoft, almost discarding OpenAI.
It all started with Mira Murati’s post on X, “OpenAI is nothing without its people.” Just a few minutes later, the feed was filled with people writing the same thing on their timelines. To Murati’s post, Altman replied with a heart. This took a turn to a mass exodus of employees.
Nadella highlighted that Altman was the only one he was in close contact with when he was at OpenAI. Now, he wants Altman to lead the new AI research lab at Microsoft, along with Greg Brockman, which is going to be similar to the GitHub, LinkedIn, or Mojang Studios team, as he highlighted.
Interestingly, Nadella wants Altman to be a full-time dedicated employee of the company, which means a lot of his other ventures such as WorldCoin would be at stake, but the story is still developing.
On the other hand, OpenAI is left with nothing but just the board, which is also expected to leave, along with Ilya Sutskever, who is regretting all the actions of the board, given that all of the employees are leaving. Though Microsoft continually wants to work with OpenAI, it would not be possible if the team does not exist at the non-profit company. But for Microsoft, it now has all the best human capital in the world to build the next AGI.
“I have not known him before, I met him for the first time last night,” Nadella said about the new interim CEO of OpenAI Emmett Shear. But for Altman, he said, “Sam chose Microsoft once, Sam chose Microsoft twice,” he said. Nadella was hell bent on not losing out on the key employees of OpenAI, as they are the leaders of the AI world.
Microsoft is now about AGI
“We were very happy on Friday morning, and we will go back to operating how we were from Monday,” said Nadella about whatever drama unfolded over the weekend. “We have learnt a lesson or two, and we will double down on it.”
Even though a lot of investors, along with the team, want Altman back as the CEO of OpenAI, Altman is ready to work with Microsoft. For how long, that is still a question. The best part about all this is that the company wants to keep delivering what it was delivering all this while, but now with OpenAI on board, a lot of that would be directed towards developing AGI.
“If everything disappeared, we will still have everything we need in order to just continue innovating,” expressed Nadella. Given the compute capabilities that Microsoft already has, probably the largest one in the world, the OpenAI team might be best to work directly with Microsoft now, without the shackles of being stuck with a non-profit organisation.
“We cannot let our customers feel like there are going to be any more surprises,” highlighted Nadella. Moreover, Nadella is extremely happy with Altman in his company. When asked if there is going to be a clash between Altman’s and his vision in the company, Nadella said, “Lets just say it is fantastic to have a lot of capable people who can become the CEO of Microsoft.”