June 21, 2024
OpenAI in turmoil: Altman's leadership, trust issues and new opportunities for Google and Anthropic — 4 key takeaways 


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In a special video podcast, VB editorial director Michael Nunez and I discuss the takeaways from the OpenAI debacle of the last 5 days.

What does it all mean for enterprise technical decision makers? Click on the video link above to get the full take, but here’s the summary:

As much as the announcement last night provided the appearance of a restoration of the company under Sam Altman’s leadership, the fallout has caused significant self-inflicted wounds, and many unanswered questions remain.

Trust: For one, there are big trust issues circling around Sam Altman and his leadership as a result of his actions, which included among other things his criticism of the board member, Helen Toner, who was concerned about AI safety. She had praised the conduct of a competitor, Anthropic, in an October academic paper she wrote, for being more safety-first than OpenAI. Her paper, which provided thoughtful detail, appeared consistent with her duty and role, given that her primary mandate as a board member was to pursue safe AI. That and several other events had caused the board, including co-founder Ilya Sutskever, to turn against Altman in frustration. Now the board must be rebuilt with both diversity and strong mandate to standup to Altman.

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Not a serious enterprise player?: Second: OpenAI, as newly constituted, seems poised to focus mostly on the growth of a consumer-oriented LLM product, popular among developers, but potentially not as safe for the enterprise as previously conceived.

Winners and losers: There are several winners from this week’s events. In his remarks, Nunez covers the boost the OpenAI fallout has provided for open-source LLM products like Llama, now that many developers have given them a second look – and found them promising. Players like Anthropic and Google also have a big opening to gain momentum at OpenAI’s expense. OpenAI is the loser.

Governance structure: Finally there are big questions around OpenAI’s complicated governance structure and whether it will be able to sort these out.

Whatever happens, this promises to be a roller coaster ride for OpenAI for the foreseeable future, and one that VentureBeat will continue to cover closely.

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