Sam Altman against OpenAI: A game of chess won by Microsoft

sam altman against openai a game of chess won by microsoft
sam altman against openai a game of chess won by microsoft

It only took a few days for Microsoft to take over OpenAI , the company behind ChatGPT . Sam Altman, superstar of artificial intelligence , experienced four days of somewhat crazy twists and turns. Fired by his board of directors last Friday, he was hired this Monday by Microsoft before finally being reinstalled at the head of OpenAI on Tuesday with a reshuffled board of directors. The striking proof of the power of the tech giants in the face of the desire for independence of start-ups, even the most famous.

Satya Nadella , CEO of Microsoft, played a masterstroke on Monday by announcing to hire Sam Altman, barely ousted from OpenAI. The organization’s board of directors obviously thought it could free itself from its partner Microsoft, which it did not even warn of this dismissal. Serious error, according to analysts. The days when an engineer in a garage could build a global giant single-handedly, like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, seem to be over.

“Microsoft has all the rights”

For two days, Microsoft, which is banking heavily on the sale of OpenAI products to relaunch itself, reminded who holds the power. In an interview Tuesday evening with star journalist Kara Swisher, Satya Nadella was very clear. “There is no OpenAI without the massive support of Microsoft. We love their independence, but… we have full ownership rights. If, tomorrow, OpenAI disappears, none of our customers should worry, we have all the rights to continue the innovations and not just distribute them. Everything we do in partnership with OpenAI, we can do ourselves. We have IT, we have data, we have people. We have everything. We are self-sufficient” in AI, he listed.

And to warn that if Sam Altman returned to the head of the company, they “[would] ensure that [they would] never return to such a situation, where [they would have] such surprises”, assuring that their “ interests were solid. “As I said, we have all the rights,” he insisted. “This is what the OpenAI board failed to understand. It’s stupid to think that a company with a little technology can make all the difference,” he said, still smiling.

Microsoft more powerful than OpenAI

Microsoft finds itself in a much stronger position than last week vis-à-vis OpenAI, with which its relationship seemed vague, without us knowing which one depended on the other. In seven years, the American giant has in fact injected billions of dollars (10 to 13 billion, according to the press), largely in the form of credits to use its supercomputers. Then began to market OpenAI products, including ChatGPT, by integrating them into its software (Word, Excel, its Bing search engine, Outlook, etc.)

By marketing ChatGPT in its own software, Microsoft has actually become so powerful that it competes with its own partner, bound by an exclusive long-term contract. Result: OpenAI is still far from making a profit, while Microsoft saw revenues from its Azure cloud jump by almost 30% in the third quarter.

“With the return of Sam Altman and this board of directors, it is Microsoft who will own OpenAI,” said Dan Ives, of the Wedbush Securities fund, in an interview. “It’s clearly positive for Microsoft,” adds Frederick Havemeyer, of the financial group Macquarie Group: “Nadella played excellently. He will continue to have access to OpenAI’s intellectual property with a board more open to commercialization and accelerating innovation. In AI, Microsoft is leading the pack, facing other major cloud groups, Google and Amazon, who are all seeking to develop AI. »


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