OpenAI is facing serious trouble as, following the dismissal of its CEO Sam Altman and his surprise hiring by Microsoft, hundreds of employees may now follow in his footsteps. This situation is quite amusing, as it could be said that Microsoft has “bought” OpenAI without actually purchasing the company itself.
According to recent reports, the problems are severe enough that OpenAI could experience an exodus of up to 700 employees. This means that the former CEO of OpenAI, along with as many as 700 of the company’s workers, would all end up at Microsoft, bolstering its position in the AI industry. For reference, OpenAI currently has around 770 employees, so it would nearly cease to exist if this employee exodus took place.
Essentially, nearly all of OpenAI’s employees have threatened to resign from the company and join Microsoft, which now houses the former CEO and co-founder of OpenAI. They would all feel at home, as co-founder Greg Brockman and former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman will lead a new “advanced AI research team.”
In an internal letter seen by the public, over 650 current OpenAI employees claim that “Microsoft has assured us that there are positions for all OpenAI employees in this new subsidiary if we decide to join.” The letter states that OpenAI employees will leave if the board does not reinstate Altman and Brockman.
With the board having made its decision, keeping their positions and appointing a new CEO while Altman and Brockman are already at Microsoft, it seems that the first several hundred employees Altman wanted may have been found. Assuming the company keeps its promise to hire them all, which is clearly an intention.
OpenAI employees signing the letter accuse the company’s board of jeopardizing their work and “undermining our mission and our company.” They also reject the notion that OpenAI was advancing too quickly without concern for safety, stating, “Our work on AI safety and governance shapes global standards.”
This move comes just after Microsoft announced the launch of its own AI CPUs and accelerators for use in its Azure servers. Hiring OpenAI’s CEO, co-founder, and now potentially the entire company would make Microsoft a major player in the AI industry. If this move goes through, Microsoft would effectively buy OpenAI at a bargain price, merely by paying the employees’ salaries. What this will mean for OpenAI remains to be seen, but it’s likely to either disappear or be sold to Microsoft at a heavily reduced price.