Salesforce looks to poach outbound OpenAI staff with "full cash" compensation offer

Marc Benioff, co-chief executive officer of Inc., speaks during a keynote at the 2022 Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, California
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Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has revealed the firm will offer positions to outgoing OpenAI employees amidst a looming exodus from the beleaguered tech giant. 

In a statement on Twitter, Benioff said Salesforce will provide full compensation for OpenAI staff who join Salesforce’s Einstein Trusted AI research team.

“Salesforce will match any OpenAI researcher who has tendered their resignation full cash & equity OTE to immediately join our Salesforce Einstein Trusted AI research team under Silvio Savarese,” he said.

“Einstein is the most successful enterprise AI Platform completing 1 Trillion predictive & generative transactions this week! Join our Trusted AI Enterprise Revolution.”

The Salesforce CEO’s call to arms for OpenAI researchers comes amidst a staff revolt over the ousting of chief exec Sam Altman. 

OpenAI confirmed Altman’s abrupt removal from the company in a shock announcement on Friday 17 November. The decision sparked a weekend of chaos at the tech firm, with co-founder and president Greg Brockman announcing his resignation in response.

Altman and Brockman have since joined Microsoft to lead a new “advanced AI research” team alongside OpenAI colleagues who left in the wake of the sacking.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the appointment in a statement online today (20 November), adding that the company still “remains committed to its partnership” with OpenAI.


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Benioff appears to be capitalizing on a pending exodus of talent from OpenAI in the wake of a staff letter threatening mass resignations unless Altman is reinstated.

More than 600 staff at the firm penned their names to the letter today, according to reports. This includes chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, who was initially believed to have been behind the coordinated boardroom revolt against Altman. 

“The process through which you terminated Sam Altman and removed Greg Brockman from the board has jeopardized all of this work and undermined our mission and company,” the letter reads. “Your conduct has made it clear you did not have the competence to oversee OpenAI.”

In the letter, OpenAI staff also threatened to join Altman at Microsoft following his appointment at the firm.

“Microsoft has assured us that there are positions for all OpenAI employees at this new subsidiary should we choose to join," it reads.

Benioff and Salesforce have been keen to emphasize the company’s focus on responsible AI development in recent months amidst a heightened focus on integration of generative AI tools, such as its Einstein Copilot, across core product offering.

Ross Kelly
News and Analysis Editor

Ross Kelly is ITPro's News & Analysis Editor, responsible for leading the brand's news output and in-depth reporting on the latest stories from across the business technology landscape. Ross was previously a Staff Writer, during which time he developed a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership, and emerging technologies.

He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.

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