News & Analysis

Microsoft offers to match pay for OpenAI staff amid leadership crisis

21st November 2023
Paige West

In a strategic move, Microsoft has extended an offer to match the salaries of any OpenAI staff willing to join its ranks.

This offer comes in the wake of a leadership upheaval at OpenAI, where CEO Sam Altman was unexpectedly dismissed last Friday (17th November). Microsoft, a key investor in OpenAI, has also proposed a role for Altman to lead a new advanced AI research team.

The departure of Altman from OpenAI has sparked considerable unrest within the organisation. A significant number of OpenAI employees, nearly the entire workforce, have expressed their discontent and are considering leaving unless Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman are reinstated.

Evan Morikawa, an engagement manager at OpenAI, revealed that a vast majority of the staff, 743 out of 770, have signed a letter demanding the resignation of the current board. The letter also indicates that the employees have been approached with job offers from Microsoft. In response to this escalating situation, Microsoft's Chief Technical Officer Kevin Scott has confirmed the company's willingness to absorb these employees. Scott assured OpenAI staff that Microsoft is prepared to offer roles that would match their current compensation.

The potential exodus of OpenAI employees to Microsoft and the possibility of Sam Altman leading a new AI research team at Microsoft could signify a major shift in the AI research landscape. Microsoft's position as OpenAI's most substantial investor positions it uniquely to offer such opportunities and leverage the situation to strengthen its AI capabilities.

As the situation unfolds, the AI community is closely watching how these developments will reshape the relationships and power dynamics within the sector.

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