Microsoft Was 'Below Them, Above Them, Around Them,' In Reference To OpenAI

Satya Nadella
CEO of Microsoft

When a person is the CEO of a company, that person is tasked with commanding a team of talents. As the captain of a ship, the person needs to be a visionary leader who is also a strategic thinker, capable of steering the company towards success.

With traits that also include decisiveness and communication, resilience, strategic networking, integrity, and continuous learning, the CEO must also adapt to changes, as soon as the changes happen.

Satya Nadella is the CEO of Microsoft, the tech titan that has been around far longer than most other modern tech titans.

He was chosen to lead Microsoft by the company's board of directors for his deep understanding of Microsoft's business, his track record of driving innovation within the company, and his vision for its future in the rapidly evolving technology landscape.

And in the rise of AI, the CEO has made a number of key decisions that changed Microsoft forever.

Satya Nadella.
Satya Nadella.

When OpenAI's board fired its CEO, Sam Altman, in a November 2023 shock move, Nadella boasted that it would not matter at all.

"If OpenAI disappeared tomorrow, we have all the IP rights and all the capability."

"We have the people, we have the compute, we have the data, we have everything."

"We are below them, above them, around them."

When Altman was fired, the ousting was said to make Nadella realize hat Microsoft couldn't rely solely on OpenAI.

Even after pouring so much money on OpenAI, Nadella knows that Microsoft cannot be overly dependent on the ChatGPT maker.

The tech giant's CEO then hired AI veteran and Google DeepMind founder Mustafa Suleyman to lead a new group at the company spearheading all its consumer AI initiatives, including its Copilot chatbot.

Microsoft is also bringing over Suleyman's Inflection cofounder Karén Simonyan, plus some other members of the team.

Nadella announced he was recruiting Altman and Greg Brockman, OpenAI's president, but after a series of dramatic twists, Altman was reinstated as OpenAI CEO days later.

"If OpenAI disappeared tomorrow, I don't want any customer of ours to be worried about it quite honestly, because we have all of the rights to continue the innovation."

"Not just to serve the product, but we can go and just do what we were doing in partnership ourselves."

Read: No 'Malfeasance': The Firing Of Sam Altman, And How OpenAI Desperately Wants Him Back

Sam Altman, Satya Nadella
Satya Nadella and Sam Altman. The CEO of Microsoft knows that his company cannot be overly dependent on the ChatGPT maker.

Microsoft is no stranger to AI, and has been developing in-house AI products for more than many years.

But the trends have shifted, and that generative AI has made the spotlight, enjoying the limelight like pretty much no product before it could.

Microsoft was "self-sufficient" in its AI offerings and had the talent, compute, and data.

After all, it's business as usual, and Nadella made the strategic move to keep Microsoft ahead.

In particular, it's all part of Microsoft's push to get ahead in the AI race with competitors - like Google.

The Microsoft chief acknowledged that Gemini-maker Google is a very strong player in the AI industry.

"Google should have been the default winner," Nadella once said.

Read: Being Fired Can Be So Painful That 'I Wouldn't Wish It On An Enemy'