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7 Things To Know About OpenAI’s Turmoil And Its Ex-CEO (Potentially) Joining Microsoft

Dylan Martin

CRN provides an in-depth roundup of the dramatic series of events around OpenAI’s firing of CEO Sam Altman, who is joining Microsoft to lead a new AI research team but could find his way back to his old position due to many employees reportedly threatening to leave the generative AI firm.

In less than 60 hours, Sam Altman went from getting fired as CEO of OpenAI, the high-flying generative AI firm behind ChatGPT, to getting hired to lead a new AI research organization at the company’s top backer, Microsoft, and legions of former colleagues may follow him there.

The dizzying and dramatic series of events played out between Friday afternoon, when Altman’s ouster at OpenAI was announced, and early Monday morning, when Microsoft named him and fellow OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman as the leaders of a new research organization there.

[Related: The ChatGPT-Fueled AI Gold Rush: How Solution Providers Are Cashing In]

But the twists and turns may not be over. As of Monday mid-afternoon, a report said there is a chance Altman and Brockman could be reinstated as OpenAI’s leaders after an initial effort to bring them back fell through on Sunday night. This emerged after Microsoft announced its plans to hire them.

While Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said his company remains committed to its partnership with OpenAI—which kicked off a frenzy of generative AI hype and spending by businesses with the launch of ChatGPT a year ago—the current events have sent shockwaves throughout the tech industry, with the future of one of the world’s top valued private startups now mired in uncertainty.

Before a Monday afternoon report said that Altman and Brockman, OpenAI’s former president, could return to the company, the organization had appointed Emmett Shear, co-founder and former leader of Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch, as the startup’s interim CEO.

But most of the company’s employees have reportedly said they will resign if Altman isn’t reinstated as OpenAI’s CEO and the existing board stays in place. The dissenters include one of the board directors behind Altman’s ouster, OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutskever, who has since voiced his regret in firing his colleague.

A Microsoft representative referred CRN to public statements made by Nadella vowing its commitment to OpenAI and hiring Altman and Brockman for the new AI research team but did not comment on their potential return to OpenAI.

OpenAI did not respond to a request for comment.

What follows are seven things to know about the stunning series of events, from Altman’s ouster at OpenAI to his appointment at Microsoft, as well as the broader context around the events, including the symbiotic relationship between OpenAI and Microsoft and how OpenAI has evolved over the years.

Dylan Martin

Dylan Martin is a senior editor at CRN covering the semiconductor, PC, mobile device, and IoT beats. He has distinguished his coverage of the semiconductor industry thanks to insightful interviews with CEOs and top executives; scoops and exclusives about product, strategy and personnel changes; and analyses that dig into the why behind the news.   He can be reached at

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