Well, Kinda Quite a Story

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AI and who runs the company-cum-non-profit OpenAI is far from much that concerns TPM. But I felt I had to return at least once to the topic of the previous post. Because it did turn out to be “quite a story” but a story of a totally different sort than I’d imagined. The abruptness of CEO Sam Altman’s ouster, the potential loss to investors of tens of billions of dollars and the apparent claims of malfeasance in the company’s announcement made it seem certain that some vast scale of wrongdoing must be at the heart of the story. But now it doesn’t seem like that was the case at all. We still don’t know quite what happened or why. But the weight of evidence now points to some kind of non-wrongdoing-based spat between Altman and certain members of the board. Within a day, the board was trying to get Altman to come back and be CEO again. They’re currently negotiating to see if they can get him to come back. But he may choose to just start his own company with another employee who was canned.

What makes the story notable is that OpenAI was in the process of cashing in on its almost $80 billion valuation, much of most of which could now go up in smoke. It’s possible that the company’s transition from non-profit to for profit start-up (how’s that happen?) could be at the heart of the spat. Lots of dollars in this barbecue.

Not my circus, not my monkey, as they say. But still very weird.

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