In a startling development within the artificial intelligence realm, OpenAI’s board has reportedly approached Anthropic, its fierce competitor, proposing a merger.
This news emerges against the backdrop of significant upheaval within OpenAI’s leadership structure, including the unexpected dismissal of CEO Sam Altman. However, the proposition met with a swift and resolute rejection from Dario Amodei. His decisive response serves as a poignant illustration of the fiercely competitive landscape that characterizes the AI occupation.
The Proposal and the decline
OpenAI, reeling from the recent dismissal of its CEO Sam Altman, reached out to Anthropic’s co-founder and CEO, Dario Amodei, with a dual proposition: a merger between the two AI firms and for Amodei to assume the CEO role at OpenAI.
This offer, nonetheless, was promptly declined by Amodei, who cited a solid commitment to his company.
This decision reflects the fierce competition between the two organizations, with Anthropic marketing its chatbot, Claude, as a direct competitor to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. This rivalry has extended to the recruitment of researchers and the battle for customers.
Complicating matters for OpenAI, nearly 700 of its staff members have expressed interest in joining Sam Altman at Microsoft, where he is set to lead a new AI research team. This mass exodus of talent has put OpenAI in a challenging position as it attempts to retain its research and development capabilities amidst the leadership shakeup.
Consequently, Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s chief scientist and a key figure in the decision to remove CEO Sam Altman, expressed regret for his role in the events that led to Altman’s departure. This internal conflict has increased the uncertainty about where the company is headed in the future.
“I deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we’ve built together, and I will do everything I can to reunite the company.”
Sam Altman’s departure and replacement
After a detailed evaluation by the board, Sam Altman stepped down from his role as the CEO of OpenAI. The board’s investigation revealed that Altman hadn’t been fully transparent in his communications with them, impacting their ability to function effectively. As a result, this led to a loss of confidence in his leadership.
In the wake of Altman’s departure, Mira Murati, the company’s chief technology officer, assumed the role of interim CEO. This change in leadership was announced in a company blog post. However, it’s worth noting that the transition has not been without its challenges and criticisms.
Subsequently, Emmett Shear, the former CEO of Twitch, was later appointed as another interim CEO, succeeding Mira Murati. Shear shared his enthusiasm for joining OpenAI, calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity. At the same time, he voiced criticism over how Altman’s departure was handled, pointing out that it significantly undermined trust within the organization.
“Today I got a call inviting me to consider a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to become the interim CEO of @OpenAI.”
Altman’s departure sparks controversy
Sam Altman’s exit from OpenAI has caused a significant stir in the AI community, especially on social media platforms. Numerous individuals expressed their respect for Altman’s work in AI and his pivotal role in establishing OpenAI as a key player in the field.
Eric Schmidt, the former chairman and CEO of Google, commended Altman’s accomplishments. He highlighted how Altman grew the company from its inception to a $90 billion valuation, significantly impacting the global landscape in the process. Moreover, he eagerly anticipates Altman’s future endeavors, believing they will profoundly impact society.
Sam Altman is a hero of mine. He built a company from nothing to $90 Billion in value, and changed our collective world forever. I can't wait to see what he does next. I, and billions of people, will benefit from his future work- it's going to be simply incredible. Thank you…
— Eric Schmidt (@ericschmidt) November 17, 2023
Similarly, Chris Anderson, head of the technology conference TED, compared Altman’s departure to Apple’s decision to part ways with Steve Jobs, emphasizing the need for clarity on the circumstances surrounding Altman’s exit.
— Chris Anderson (@TEDchris) November 17, 2023