Visionaries lead and execute the best companies. Founding entrepreneurs -- the people like Sam Altman who put everything on the line to challenge the status quo -- face risk head on with a focus on success, even if that success, along the way, means some type of failure.
I’m not an entrepreneur, but I’ve been around long enough to respect those who are. And those who are typically have an unquestionable respect for the technology
or business they create. Wanting to do what they believe is ethically correct takes top priority.
I had a strong feeling Altman would end up at Microsoft some way -- that either CEO Satya Nadella would offer him a position to run the company’s artificial intelligence group or acquire OpenAI.
The weekend’s events unfolded like a suspense or a mystery novel,
with Microsoft pushing to get Altman reinstated as OpenAI’s CEO after the company's board ousted him on Friday. No doubt it was a delicate situation. Nadella wanted Altman, but as of April 2023
committed about $13 billion in funding to OpenAI.
Advertisers and agencies have invested millions, if not billions, in their own technology integrated with artificial intelligence (AI) for platforms from creatives to automated bidding. Some are now running performance reports and turning them into emails to send clients -- all based on AI.
Vinod Khosla, a venture capitalist and first investor in OpenAI, believes the wrong board of directors can damage companies.
“Fancy titles like ‘Director of Strategy at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology’ can lead to a false sense of understanding of the complex process of entrepreneurial innovation,” he wrote in an opinion column for the Information. “OpenAI’s board members' religion of ‘effective altruism’ and its misapplication could have set back the world’s path to the tremendous benefits of artificial intelligence.”
A great entrepreneur also creates loyalty. More than 500 of OpenAI’s 770 employees have reportedly threatened to leave the company if the current board doesn't resign and reinstate Altman and the former President Greg Brockman, who also joined Microsoft. I think that ship has sailed.
The threat was made in a letter to OpenAI’s board. Among the signees, Ilya Sutskever, the company’s chief scientist and one of the four-person board members who voted to oust Altman.
“Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI,” the employees wrote, per The Wall Street Journal. “We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgement and care for our mission and employees.”
Altman didn’t create AI, but in a sense, he started the evolution spiraling through many industries, including advertising.
The OpenAI employees who signed the letter said they may leave the company and join Altman and Brockman at Microsoft if their demands aren’t met, adding that Microsoft had assured them that there would be jobs available for all of them.
That would be one way Microsoft could acquire the talent without acquiring the company.
Microsoft had placed huge bets on OpenAI, with plans to spend about $50 billion annually for a datacenter to deploy GPT-4 based copilot products. SemiAnalysis data shows one of OpenAI’s next training supercomputers in Arizona was going to have more than 75,000 GPUs in one site by the middle of next year.
Microsoft planned to purchase more than 400,000 GPUs next year for both training and copilot and API inference. It also has tens of thousands of GPUs coming in via cloud deals with CoreWeave, Lambda, and Oracle, according to SemiAnalysis.
“If the new team were to spin out and make their own startup, they would have had tremendous difficulty acquiring enough compute to build a GPT-5 scale model before Anthropic or Google,” SemiAnalysis writes. “Given there is a sort of runaway escape velocity here, this would put them at a huge disadvantage in the race to AGI. By joining Microsoft, the former OpenAI team will still have access to the necessary compute resources next year.