The leadership chaos at Open AI has taken another unexpected turn: Sam Altman, who was fired as CEO of the company specializing in artificial intelligence last Friday, is moving to Microsoft. He will lead a research group around AI there, and he will bring a number of other former employees of Open AI with him. Open AI is the maker of the popular AI system ChatGPT, and Microsoft is an important cooperation partner and largest single shareholder of the company.

Roland Lindner

Business correspondent in New York.

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Altman's dismissal had set off a chain of events over the weekend. Several senior Open AI employees quit in protest, and investors, including Microsoft, put pressure on the company to bring Altman back. Talks with Altman were held at Open AI's headquarters in San Francisco on Sunday, but failed. Instead, Open AI announced the appointment of a new interim CEO, Emmett Shear, the former CEO of the video game platform Twitch, which belongs to the online retailer Amazon.

Revolt at Open AI

A short time later, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced Altman's recruitment on Platform X. Joining him is Greg Brockman, who, like Altman, was one of the co-founders of Open AI and was the number two president there, so to speak. Brockman had quit on Friday, and he now wrote on X that other high-ranking former colleagues from Open AI would join Microsoft. Meanwhile, a revolt broke out at Open AI on Monday. More than 500 of the company's roughly 700 employees signed an open letter calling on the board of directors responsible for Altman's dismissal to resign. "They are incapable of supervising Open AI," it said. The signatories threatened to resign themselves and move to Microsoft.

Open AI had parted ways with Altman on Friday, saying the board of directors had lost confidence in him. Altman was "not consistently sincere" in his communication with the board, it continued, but the company did not become more specific. Altman's ouster sent shockwaves across the tech industry.

He was the public face of Open AI, and because of ChatGPT's huge success, he also became something of an AI ambassador for the entire industry and a sought-after interlocutor for politicians around the world when it came to issues of regulating such technologies.

Microsoft and other investors were also apparently surprised by the change in leadership. At times over the weekend, it looked as if Altman could make a quick and triumphant comeback under pressure from these investors. He himself published a photo of himself with a guest badge at Open AI's headquarters on Sunday on X, writing that this would be the first and last time he would wear such a card. But talks broke down, and on Sunday evening, the company told its workforce that Altman would not be returning.