Microsoft celebrates OpenAI's return to stability

Both publicly and internally, Microsoft is cheering the resolution at the ChatGPT developer

Both publicly and internally, leaders at Microsoft are cheering OpenAI's apparent return to normalcy following days of chaos.

The ChatGPT creator, in which Microsoft has reportedly invested some $13 billion, has been on a roller-coaster ride that began Friday when its board abruptly fired Sam Altman as CEO and ended with his return and the appointment of a new board early Wednesday.

Following Altman's ouster, Microsoft swooped in to hire him along with OpenAI co-founder and president Greg Brockman — who quit OpenAI in protest over Altman's termination — to lead a new advanced AI research team at Microsoft, and also offered to hire any other OpenAI employees who wanted to leave. 

Sam Altman picture with OpenAI logo

Sam Altman is returning to OpenAI as CEO after his ousting last week, and three board members that participated in his termination have been removed. (Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images / Getty Images)

At that point, Microsoft, already majority owner in OpenAI, was positioned to essentially "acquire" OpenAI by absorbing its talent, after nearly all the startup's 770 or so workers signed a letter saying they would take Microsoft up on the offer unless Altman was reinstated.

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However, a deal was ultimately reached for Altman to return to OpenAI rather than allowing the $90 billion company to collapse, in what Fortune tech reporter David Meyer wrote is an outcome that "is pretty ideal for Microsoft."

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella took to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, to express his relief following the announcement of Altman's return to OpenAI, and extended gratitude to the employees at both companies.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks during the OpenAI DevDay event in San Francisco on Nov. 6.  (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images / Getty Images)

"These last 5 days, I saw people across OpenAI remaining calm and resolute in driving their mission despite all that was happening around them. And I saw people across Microsoft remain focused on our mission and serving our customers and partners, stepping up to help in every way," Nadella wrote. 

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"This is what I’m especially thankful for going into the Thanksgiving holiday. Thank you for your resolve and for the work you do each day to advance AI safely and responsibly and distribute its benefits to all of humanity."

In an internal memo obtained by The Verge, Kevin Scott, Microsoft's CTO and EVP of AI, also heaped praise on employees while addressing the end to the saga.

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"Throughout, nothing has changed or wavered about our resolve and focus to deliver the world’s best Al technology platforms and products to our customers and partners," he wrote. "We will continue to support our colleagues at OpenAl and the phenomenal work they’ve been doing alongside us in service of that mission. As we have for these past 4+ years, we look forward to continuing our work with Sam and his team."

Microsoft - Open AI

Microsoft has reportedly invested $13 billion in OpenAI. (Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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According to Fortune's Meyer, Microsoft has reason to celebrate the outcome.

"In some ways, Microsoft has ended up with the best of both worlds here," Meyer wrote. "The inherent and growing tension between OpenAI’s nonprofit structure and the need to fund its enormous staffing and running costs is a lot closer to being resolved than it was this time last week."

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He added, "Looks like the money won, which means fewer surprises for Nadella, who also probably now gets less resistance to his need for speed — this episode will take OpenAI further away from its safety-first roots."