Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stood onstage next to OpenAI's Sam Altman at the startup's conference in a former concert hall in San Francisco. Both wore black jeans, Altman in an army-green shirt and Nadella in navy casual.
«We love you guys!» Nadella said as he turned to Altman.
«Awwww,» Altman responded.
Altman has called OpenAI's relationship with Microsoft «the best bromance in tech.» Since 2019, the companies have worked together to build advanced artificial intelligence systems that they believe could be the most important tech innovations in a generation, and Microsoft has invested $13 billion in OpenAI. Together, they planned to take on Google's hammerlock on the internet.
That relationship is being put to the test. On Friday, when the nonprofit board that controls OpenAI ousted Altman, the company's co-founder and CEO, Microsoft was given just minutes of warning before the move was made public.
Over the last three days, Nadella has made it clear that he isn't about to walk away from the partnership — but OpenAI's future may be in doubt. And what could have been an embarrassing moment for Nadella and his company has turned into a display of corporate muscle flexing that has stunned industry insiders.
Since OpenAI released its ChatGPT chatbot almost a year ago, AI has captured the public's imagination, with hopes that it could be used for important work like drug research or to help teach children. It could also lead to job losses or even