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When Boards Score Own-Goals and the Lessons from ChatGPT’s OpenAI and Sam Altman

When Boards Score Own-Goals and the Lessons from ChatGPT’s OpenAI and Sam Altman

When the Board of OpenAI fired Sam Altman, arguably one of the finest generative AI business visionaries in the world right now, it scored an own-goal. Why did they fire him? Possibly, Sam does not know how to write very long memos since the complaint was on “communication”. Yes, they did not accuse him of not delivering economic value, not creating the right products and not doing the typical things which boards hire CEOs to do.

With that own-goal, Microsoft which has funded OpenAI’s ChatGPT jumped for the Sam’s team. Today, the team will be working with Microsoft to extend the mission. As that happens, watch out for the displacement of ChatGPT primarily because if Sam’s team can bake the right products in Microsoft, the tech giant may not see a lot of interest in wasting time with deeper collaborations with OpenAI. 

Why? What made ChatGPT amazing is not just the algorithm and code, but decades of Microsoft data which supported its evolution. If you disconnect the data, ChatGPT will stall. And that is the risk ChatGPT faces right now. The other investors should hope that Microsoft does not follow that path because if you take out the data coming from Bing and other Microsoft sources, ChatGPT will be like another PhD thesis.

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The power unused is the most potent power because no one knows the extent of its efficacy, the Igbo axiom posits. But when it is used, people now know how effective it is. OpenAI used its “firing power” and became bare [Igbo sons and daughters, I do not want to use the right translation out of decency here] in the market because we have seen that while it can fire Sam, it is unable to “unfire” him, as they tried unsuccessfully.

Comment: “So I’m thinking that with Microsoft assimilating Sam, they’d still trail behind ChatGPT” . My response: If Microsoft stops providing data to train ChatGPT, it becomes a PhD project. There are better models in the world than ChatGPT but none has the data that Microsoft and Google have as they own search engines with all data. Without the Microsoft data, ChatGPT will fade over time.

Staff asks for the Board to go


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2 THOUGHTS ON When Boards Score Own-Goals and the Lessons from ChatGPT’s OpenAI and Sam Altman

  1. It was a 48 hours like no other, it touches on both extremes of heights and depths, magically – a coup of unparalleled execution started and ended, there was no time left for amalgam of analysis and dramas, because they were quickly overtaken by events higher in magnitude and comprehension. Microsoft’s Satya perhaps gave the greatest lesson on what ‘securing the bag’ truly entails, and many people across the globe are still scratching their heads to fully make sense of what just happened.

    It is not clear how OpenAI evolves from here, there is a reason why most valuable entities or persons are always defended and supported, even when they misbehave. The board said they stood by their decision, more of face saving than what actually hit it. It is not every tool or person you can simply throw out there when you are angry or disappointed, because you must also factor who could grab this ‘thing’ you are discarding, else you have essentially approved your own meltdown.

    May you live in interesting times.

    • This is really interesting.

      Firing Sam Altman by the Board is both a mistake and a bad decision.

      You don’t fire a vision owner and expect to grow.

      For OpenAI to reach it’s fullest potential, Sam Altman is the go-to guy.

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