- Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said he wants changes to OpenAI’s board following the firing of Sam Altman.
- Nadella did not specify what changes he would like to make.
- Nadella was stunned by Altman’s sudden firing on Friday.
After a stormy weekend of departures and internal protests at OpenAI, the company’s most important investor and partner wants a change in the management board that started the chaos.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella weighed in on the media frenzy on Monday afternoon, speaking to CNBC, BloombergTV and Kara Swisher. During these interviews, he offered no praise other than having recently been ousted from office OpenAI CEO Sam Altman but made comments about OpenAI’s board governance.
He said CNBC that “something has to change” regarding the board, but stopped short of saying what changes he would expect – including whether Microsoft should have its own seat at the table.
“I think at this point it’s very, very clear that something needs to change in management and we’ll have a good dialogue with their board about that and we’ll address that over time,” Nadella said. CNBC.
Nadella reiterated his point in a later interview with BloombergTV, saying that “surprises are bad” and that they hope to prevent them in the future.
“We just want to make sure that everything is done in a way that allows us to continue to work well together,” Nadella told the outlet. “That’s all. The idea that sudden changes happen somehow without entering a loop is not a good one.”
In an interview with tech journalist Kara Swisher on her podcast “On With Kara Swisher,” Nadella suggested that a position on Microsoft’s board or an observer at OpenAI was a possibility.
“We’ll kind of cross that line if that happens, but I think we have to make sure our interests are solid,” Nadella told Swisher in response to a question about the board seat.
Nadella also said he had no opinion on whether the current board should remain.
Nadella told Swisher that he was blindsided by the board’s Friday ouster of Altman. The board found that Altman “was not consistently honest in his communications” and that it lacked “confidence” in Altman’s ability to lead the company. The company did not go into further details.
Nadella told Bloomberg TV he still isn’t aware of why exactly the board dumped Altman.
“I wasn’t told anything,” Nadella told Bloomberg TV on Monday. “They posted internally at OpenAI that management had not discussed anything Sam had done, other than some communication breakdowns. No one on their board has told me directly about any issues, so I continue to have confidence in Sam and his leadership and ability.”
For now, Microsoft has expressed interest Altman’s employment and former CEO of OpenAI Greg Brockman, but Nadella told BloombergTV that their hiring has not yet been finalized and that he is “in the process of joining.” However, Nadella also said he would continue to work with Altman and OpenAI regardless of developments.
Altman’s sudden departure sent shockwaves throughout the AI sphere, with hundreds of OpenAI employees threatening to leave the company unless Altman was handed the reins (Nadella also offered these employees jobs at Microsoft).
OpenAI investors they also reportedly engaged in an attempt to bring Altman back to the company.
While no specific reason has yet been given for his ouster, the tech world has been flooded with rumors. Two employees reported this Business Insider’s Kali Hays that company employees received reasons from an OpenAI board member Ilya Suckew but he said no one in the company believed him.