The announcement by Microsoft’s CTO, Kevin Scott, about hiring hundreds of OpenAI employees and matching their current compensation has sparked a wave of discontent among Microsoft workers. This decision comes at a time when many Microsoft employees have been grappling with job security concerns and increased workloads.
An employee expressed their frustration, saying, “How many loyal employees who stayed at Microsoft while working 12+ hours daily and living in constant fear of being laid off all year? Now here comes OpenAI. We worked even harder when we were told there’s no budget to hire more people. 14-hour days?” This quote captures the sentiment of several employees who feel overlooked and undervalued in the wake of the OpenAI deal.
Microsoft’s 2023 has been marked by uncertainty for its employees, with the company announcing plans in January to lay off 10,000 workers. This unease extended even to staff in cloud and AI — areas prioritized for growth. In May, CEO Satya Nadella announced a freeze on salaries and reductions in the bonus and stock award budget, exacerbating concerns about job security and compensation.
Further layoffs were reported in July, surpassing the initial figure of 10,000. Microsoft also closed projects and laid off staff in its “industrial metaverse,” a significant AI initiative. This backdrop of cutbacks and uncertainty contrasts sharply with the recent news of hiring from OpenAI, creating a sense of disparity among employees.
The situation intensified when Microsoft announced the hiring of Sam Altman and Greg Brockman from OpenAI, following Altman’s dismissal as OpenAI’s CEO. An open letter from nearly all of OpenAI’s workforce assured positions at Microsoft, a promise confirmed by Scott in a post on X.
This development has led to perceptions of “different classes of employees” within Microsoft, as noted by another employee. While some Microsoft employees see the potential benefits of the new OpenAI unit, especially regarding the company’s stock compensation, others are disheartened by what they perceive as unequal treatment.
The planned AI unit’s future is uncertain, especially with OpenAI reconsidering Altman’s role. However, the morale impact on some Microsoft employees is already evident, highlighting the complex dynamics of corporate restructuring and employee sentiments in the tech industry.
Sources include: Business Insider