Chaos erupted at OpenAI on Friday as the company’s board abruptly fired its founder and chief Mr Altman, saying it “no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI”.
When asked on Monday whether Mr Altman would join Microsoft, that has invested billions in the ChatGPT company, Mr Nadella said he was “open to both options”.
“Look, that is for the OpenAI board and management and the employees to choose,” he told CNBC.
“We obviously want Sam and Greg to have a fantastic home if they’re not going to be at OpenAI,” the Microsoft chief said.
“We chose to explicitly partner with OpenAI and we want to continue to do so, and obviously, that depends on the people of OpenAI staying there or coming to Microsoft,” Mr Nadella had said.
Microsoft later officially announced it was hiring Mr Altman and OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman, who resigned on Friday.
“Extremely excited to share the news that Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, together with colleagues, will be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team,” Mr Nadella said in a post on X.
“We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success,” he said.
Mr Altman’s sacking was followed by about 500 staff at the company demanding the board’s resignation and the reinstatement of their dismissed boss.
The employees signed a letter demanding OpenAI’s board resign and reinstate Mr Altman, claiming the decision to oust him jeopardised the company’s work.
The letter was reportedly signed by several senior staff at OpenAI.
Mira Murati, the company’s chief technology officer who was appointed as the interim chief following Mr Altman’s exit, was one of the signatories.
Another signatory, Ilya Sutskever, the company’s chief scientist and one of the board members, expressed “deep regret” over the decision to remove Mr Altman.
Employees at the company’s headquarters reportedly refused to attend an emergency all-hands meeting with new OpenAI boss Emmett Shear that was scheduled on Sunday.
Some had responded to a Slack announcement with a middle-finger emoji, according to reports.
Mr Nadella also said “it’s clear something has to change around the governance” at OpenAI.
“We’ll have a good dialogue with their board on that, and walk through that as that evolves,” he said.
Mr Altman said on X that his “top priority” remains to “ensure OpenAI continues to thrive”.
“We are committed to fully providing continuity of operations to our partners and customers,” the ousted tech boss said on Monday.
“We have more unity and commitment and focus than ever before. We are all going to work together some way or other, and I’m so excited. one team, one mission,” Mr Altman said.
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