Let’s look back at the year’s juiciest stories, with battles playing out in arenas of all kinds — boardrooms, courtrooms, and courts of public opinion.
… just not in cage matches. Please, anything but a cage match.
A Frank conversation
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried faces 100+ years in prison for fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering, but 2023 saw yet another Forbes 30 Under 30 founder in hot water.
In January, JPMorgan Chase accused Charlie Javice, founder of college financial-aid platform Frank, of faking 4m+ customers to inflate its value when, in truth, she only had ~300k. What’s more: JPMorgan, which paid $175m for Frank in 2021, claimed Javice paid a data science professor $18k to create the bogus accounts for her.
Javice and former Frank exec Olivier Amar were charged with fraud, to which both pleaded not guilty. Javice — and her 77 attorneys — head to trial in 2024.
You knew this one had to make the list
OpenAI kicked up some serious drama when its board ousted CEO Sam Altman one Friday afternoon in November.
Some reports indicate the board may have been upset by a manipulative Altman pitting members against one another, especially those who wanted to move slower.
Days later, however, Altman returned with a new board consisting of Google Maps co-creator Bret Taylor, former Treasury secretary Larry Summers, and Quora co-founder and CEO Adam D’Angelo.
Exposing the cat-human hybrids
The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) suffered a data breach courtesy of SiegedSec, who describe themselves as a group of “gay furry hackers.” INL is one of the US’s largest nuclear labs, but the hackers demanded it pivot and work on creating cat-human hybrids — or, as they phrased it, “IRL catgirls” — if they wanted to protect the leaked data of thousands of employees and users.
Most have assumed SiegedSec was joking about the catgirl thing, but if anyone in the Idaho Falls area happens to see a catgirl, please call the History Channel so they can get to work on a docuseries.
Don’t even think of the word “monster”
Monster Energy has been on a yearslong rampage, filing a trademark objection against any other business that dares use the word “monster,” including an ice cream company, an adult diaper company, and a tool for removing shirt sleeves. The notorious “trademark troll” is largely ignored in Japan where it directs its ire at Pokemon (short for “pocket monsters”), but US companies often kowtow to its demands to avoid legal fees and hassle.
In April, Glowstick Entertainment CEO Vincent Livings fought back on behalf of his studio’s video game “Dark Deception: Monsters & Mortals.” In August, Livings posted to X that the US Patent and Trademark Office had ruled in his favor, dismissing Monster’s claim.
AI, the scandal maker that keeps giving
Several AI debacles occurred this year, from the guy who said his AI girlfriend encouraged him to assassinate the queen of England, to a Georgia radio host who sued OpenAI after ChatGPT fabricated legal claims against him. Publications dabbled in AI-generated content to mixed results, but for Sports Illustrated and its apparently AI-generated product reviews, it was an embarrassing disaster — especially considering publications typically receive kickbacks when readers make purchases using affiliate links. Parent company The Arena Group ousted its CEO, Ross Levinsohn, in the wake of the scandal, but claimed the two incidents were unrelated.