How to get a talent all to yourself 101

When Sam Altman was told to take the elevator downstairs, possibly with his artificial sentient potted plant in tow, the board of OpenAI may not have realised that Satya Nadella was going to be waiting around the kerb. The Microsoft-backed and -partnered San Francisco company – it got $1 billion investment in 2019 and a $10 billion investment in 2023 from Redmond-based behemoth – thought that with Altman out of the door, he would be out both the umbra of OpenAI and the penumbra of Microsoft. We don’t really know whether Nadella saddled up Microsoft with OpenAI because of the top talent there – that is, Altman and fellow OpenAI founder Greg Brookman. But with Nadella making his hire of the two official on Monday – they would be leading Microsoft’s own AI research ‘garage shop’ – that’s smart snapping up.

It would not have been beyond canny corporate tactics to actually have induced OpenAI’s board to start perceiving Altman not being ‘consistently candid in his communications with the board’. Who knows? Perhaps not being consistently candid in his communications with the board, too, was part of an elaborate plan to cut out the middleman (OpenAI) and go straight for the valued goods (the two men, Altman-Brookman). So, the question that now arises is whether Nadella will choose to retain OpenAI in the equation, or Del+Alt it for Ctrl.


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