How can we explain that the darling of Silicon Valley, the man who made ChatGPT a historic phenomenon, could have been removed from his position as CEO? Deciphering an incredible “Game of Thrones”.
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[EN VIDÉO] Discover the profession of artificial intelligence engineer!
Sam Altman is a true Silicon Valley star. It was this young man appreciated by (almost) everyone who, overnight, established OpenAI and ChatGPT as historical phenomena. Just a few days ago, Sam chaired a developers conference where he announced some major and acclaimed new features.
How is it possible that such a charismatic individual, with an almost exemplary career path, could have been fired by the board of directors? Explanations are necessary.
A board of directors of six members
First of all, the point to know is that the OpenAI board of directors is only made up of six members:
- Sam Altman ;
- son collègue Greg Brockman ;
- Ilya Sutskever, a die-hard computer scientist;
- three other individuals including Adam d’Angelo, founder of Quora.
When we know that Ilya Sutskever is at the origin of the putsch, the matter becomes more understandable: he only needed to convince three other people to obtain a majority vote and therefore be able to land Altman.
A Dissension Over Business Philosophy
The dispute that took place here concerns an essential point: the future of OpenAI and also of artificial intelligence (AI). Over the years, a major divergence has become apparent. OpenAI started as a project with an almost humanitarian vocation to create artificial intelligence to serve people, and this is the philosophy that Sutskever has retained.
However, a reality has emerged: developing ChatGPT or Dall-e costs a lot of money. In fact, Altman and Brockman brought major players into the capital, starting with Microsoft, which dropped billions of dollars without counting.
And then there was the launch of ChatGPT in late November 2022. Overnight, OpenAI changed scale significantly, establishing itself as the AI giant, reaching a valuation of $90 billion in the case of an IPO. Altman and Brockman were very much in this approach of a company able to compete with Google and others. While Sutskever would have remained a sort of idealist of artificial intelligence, not at all in phase with this “business” approach.
Thus, Sutskever was able to win over three other council members to his vision and that was it.
Microsoft was not warned!
The absolutely astonishing point is that Microsoft, the No. 1 investor in OpenAI, was only notified of the announcement a minute before the official announcement of Altman’s dismissal. Shaken, Satya Nadella, who chairs Microsoft, fought over the weekend to have OpenAI reinstate Altman and Brockman – who resigned immediately. Alas, Altman demanded the departure of Sutskever and the three other members who had disavowed him. An interim CEO even supported this plan.
Sutskever and his cohorts defended their position and ultimately named Twitch co-founder Emmet Shear as head of OpenAI.
Microsoft was the first to be threatened and everyone was watching its stock price. And that’s when Satya Nadella pulled off a masterstroke by hiring Sam Altman and Greg Brockman! And obviously, those disappointed with OpenAI, and many of them have suggested that they were going to leave the ship, are welcome.
It appears from the operation that Microsoft is the big winner of the operation and that ChatGPT was saved on the edge. However, it is possible that many users will cancel their subscription to ChatGPT to prefer its Bing Chat equivalent and Microsoft will do nothing to dissuade them.
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