November 30, 2023

Greg Brockman, OpenAI president and co-founder, and Kevin Scott, Microsoft chief technology officer, speak onstage at Microsoft’s Build conference in Seattle on May 23, 2023.

Dan DeLong | Microsoft

Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott on Tuesday offered to match compensation for the hundreds of employees at OpenAI who are threatening to resign following Sam Altman’s sudden ouster as CEO.

“To my partners at OpenAI: We have seen your petition and appreciate your desire potentially to join Sam Altman at Microsoft’s new AI Research Lab,” Scott said Tuesday in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Know that if needed, you have a role at Microsoft that matches your compensation and advances our collective mission.”

It is not immediately known if the offer is contingent on Altman’s employment at Microsoft. Scott did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment on X. But, the comment gives some clarity to what Microsoft is willing to pay employees and how many it would hire.

The future of OpenAI is still uncertain and it remains unclear where Altman will work.

Early Monday morning, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that Altman, Greg Brockman, who resigned as OpenAI’s president, and their colleagues would join Microsoft as part of a new AI research group. More than 600 OpenAI employees then signed a letter to the company’s board and threatened to join their former boss at Microsoft unless the members resigned.

In his first press interview since Altman’s ouster, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told CNBC on Monday, “At this point, I think it’s very clear that something has to change around the governance” at OpenAI. Nadella did not say for certain during the interview that Altman and Brockman were joining Microsoft, showing the situation had changed from statements made earlier in the day.

“We chose to explicitly partner with OpenAI, and we want to continue to do so,” Nadella told CNBC. “Obviously that depends on the people of OpenAI staying there or coming to Microsoft. So I’m open to both options, but one thing I will not do is stop innovating.”

OpenAI’s board fired Altman Friday after determining he was “not consistently candid in his communications” with them, according to a statement. After a long weekend of negotiations that looked to possibly reinstate Altman at the company, ex-Twitch CEO Emmett Shear announced he had been appointed interim head.

OpenAI’s board is now made up of just four people: OpenAI’s chief scientist Ilya Sutskever — who signed the letter threatening to leave — Adam D’Angelo, Tasha McCauley and Helen Toner. They have not elaborated on the reasoning behind Altman’s ouster. Sutskever expressed deep “regret” for his participation in the board’s decision in a post on X Monday.

–CNBC’s Jordan Novet contributed to this report.

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