OpenAI Drama - Day 4

Altman's side hustles, OpenAI alternatives, Fired over Google Meet, and more

Welcome to Daily Zaps — Here’s what we got for you today: 🙌

  • 🤡 OpenAI employees ask board to resign

  • 🤭 Interesting tidbits from OpenAI chaos

  • ✌️ OpenAI’s customers consider defecting

  • ☠️ Was Altman’s planned side hustle the issue?

  • 🔗 Other tech news

Let’s get right into it!

OpenAI employees ask board to resign

If you haven't been keeping up with recent events, here's a summary: Last Friday, OpenAI's board of directors dismissed Sam Altman and appointed Mira Murati, the CTO, as interim CEO. Following this, employees and investors advocated for Altman's reinstatement. However, the board approached Nat Friedman, a former GitHub executive, for the CEO position, but he declined the offer. Subsequently, Emmett Shear, the former CEO of Twitch, agreed to take on the role. Early on Monday, before the opening of the stock market, Microsoft announced the hiring of Altman and several other individuals to spearhead a new venture dedicated to AI technology.

We thought the drama was over but nope….

By Monday afternoon, the employees of OpenAI revolted and over 710 of OpenAI's 770 employees have signed a letter urging the resignation of the company's board members. They demand the reinstatement of former CEO Sam Altman and former President Greg Brockman. The letter indicates that if Altman and Brockman are not reinstated, these employees are prepared to follow them to Microsoft.

As of the latest updates, excluding Altman, at least 22 out of 24 key leaders had either resigned or signed the letter. The letter criticizes the board for undermining OpenAI's mission and competence in overseeing AI developments. Ian Hathaway and Jan Leike, two leaders who didn't sign the letter, have expressed support for the team in different ways.

Interesting tidbits from OpenAI chaos

Some interesting learnings from OpenAI drama…

  • Sam is open to coming back as CEO…we think as of 6:00 PM EST

  • Sam Altman got fired over Google Meet after getting a text message to join the meeting.

  • Microsoft invested $13B in OpenAI and found out about firing a few minutes before general public.

  • The board won’t share the reason for Sam Altman’s firing.

  • One of the board directors is Adam D’Angelo, the CEO of answers site Quora, who’s company is making a ChatGPT alternative called POE.

  • Microsoft stock hits all-time high after hiring former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, gaining over $115 billion in value compared to Friday after market low

  • While traditional news outlets are lagging with updates, social media, bloggers, and newsletters are more promptly informing their audiences.

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OpenAI’s customers consider defecting

This situation has left companies reliant on OpenAI's technology in a precarious position, with many of them reaching out to competitors like Anthropic, Google Cloud, Cohere, and considering Microsoft’s Azure service.

Was Altman’s planned side hustle the issue?

Before his unexpected removal from OpenAI, Sam Altman was engaged in efforts to secure funding for a new venture in the semiconductor industry, known as Tigris. He traveled to the Middle East to discuss this project with potential investors. The venture aimed to establish an AI-focused chip company capable of competing with Nvidia Corp., a leader in AI-related semiconductors.

Alongside this, Altman was also raising funds for an AI-focused hardware device, collaborating with former Apple Inc. design chief Jony Ive. His discussions for funding involved major entities like SoftBank Group Corp., Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, and Mubadala Investment Company, aiming to secure tens of billions of dollars for these new companies.

The strain between Altman and OpenAI’s board escalated over issues of AI safety, the pace of technological development, and the company's commercialization strategy. Altman’s side ventures further complicated this relationship.

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