OpenAI will still exist, but in what form?

The latest on the AI company’s self-inflicted crisis.

Just four days ago, OpenAI marked the pinnacle of the AI world.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks on stage with OpenAI and Microsoft logos displayed on a screen behind him. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman stands to the left, looking on.

The company was:

  • Coming off a successful DevDay.
  • En route to a huge capital raise (with an ~$80B valuation no less).
  • Celebrating ChatGPT hitting 100m+ weekly users.
  • Watching CEO Sam Altman grow his Silicon Valley legend.

By the time we reach the fifth day of its corporate drama, the company could barely even exist. It’s hard to fathom; it’s even harder to look away.

Since Altman’s Friday ousting, every passing hour has looked worse for the entrenched board members who orchestrated the move — things have been unraveling so fast, the updates below may be moot by the time they reach you…

OpenAI’s employee revolt is the most 2023 thing imaginable

In a year marked by record-setting labor strikes, it just feels right that Monday’s biggest move would come from OpenAI’s employees: more than 700 of its 770 workers signed a letter threatening to walk.

They’ve got leverage on their side; if they don’t get their wish — board out, Altman back in — they’ll leave for a place where all signatories have a standing offer…

Well played, Microsoft

Altman announced he’s setting up shop at Microsoft, where he’ll helm an “advanced AI research team” — and largely pick up where OpenAI left off rather than starting from scratch. That may ultimately include 90% of his former team.

All this means Microsoft may have just essentially acquired OpenAI. The tech giant, which invested $13B in OpenAI, found itself in a bind after Friday’s drama, but everything has quickly turned on its head — Microsoft looks like it’ll come out of the chaos having extended its AI lead.

And what about Emmett Shear?

The former Twitch boss was named CEO at OpenAI, where he… may not have anyone left to lead?

If he even gets a shot, he’d be tasked with navigating employee defections and eroded trust, then he’d need to find a board-approved pace of AI development (the issue that apparently led to this rift in the first place).

  • Shear recently took a hard line on the dangers of AI, saying it “should cause you to shit your pants,” so there’s that.

That’s all a tall order. But for Shear, this is all playing with house money. The board will take the blame if OpenAI crumbles, he’ll get credit if they rebound, and either way, he’ll undoubtedly be compensated extravagantly for hopping on this nightmarish ride.

Topics: Ai

Related Articles

Get the 5-minute news brief keeping 2.5M+ innovators in the loop. Always free. 100% fresh. No bullsh*t.