Microsoft CEO does not rule out the possibility of Sam Altman returning to OpenAI

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella suggested Monday that he is still open to Sam Altman returning to OpenAI – despite an announcement earlier in the day that Altman would join Microsoft’s artificial intelligence innovation division.

Nadella said he was “open to both options” when asked Monday in an interview with CNBC whether Altman would actually join Microsoft.

“Look, it’s up to the board, management and employees of OpenAI,” Nadella said. “We chose to explicitly partner with OpenAI and we want to continue that, and obviously it depends on whether the OpenAI people stay there or come to Microsoft.”

OpenAI, the company that developed ChatGPT, entered into crisis on Friday (17), when the company’s board of directors removed Altman from his position. With an investment of 13 billion US dollars (63.11 billion reais) in OpenAI, Microsoft is one of the biggest financiers of the company.

The firing sparked a weekend of chaos: OpenAI President Greg Brockman resigned and hundreds of OpenAI employees threatened to quit over Altman’s firing. The company also named an interim CEO, Mira Murati.

On Monday, OpenAI announced a new interim CEO, live streaming platform Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear – and Microsoft said it would hire Altman. Microsoft shares closed higher following the announcement.

However, amid a fluid leadership situation at OpenAI, reports quickly emerged that Altman could return to the company.

Nadella reiterated Microsoft’s commitment to OpenAI and Altman “regardless of configuration.”

“Obviously, we want Sam and Greg to have a fantastic home if they’re not at OpenAI,” the Microsoft CEO said.

Asked about Microsoft’s vision for OpenAI and the possibility of getting a seat on the board, Nadella said that “it’s clear that something needs to change when it comes to governance.”

In a separate interview on Kara Swisher’s “On” podcast on Monday, Nadella demurred when asked whether Altman might ever be considered for Microsoft’s CEO job if he joined the company.

“Let’s just say it’s fantastic to have so many good people who can become CEO of Microsoft,” Nadella said.

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