OpenAI and the Biggest Threat in the History of Humanity
Last weekend, there was massive drama at the board of OpenAI, the non-profit/company that makes ChatGPT, which has grown from nothing to $1B revenue per year in a matter of months.
Sam Altman, the CEO of the company, was fired by the board of the non-profit arm. The president, Greg Brockman, stepped down immediately after learning Altman had been let go.
Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft — who owns 49% of the OpenAI company — told OpenAI he still believed in the company, while hiring Greg and Sam on the spot for Microsoft, and giving them free rein to hire and spend as much as they needed, which will likely include the vast majority of OpenAI employees.
This drama, worthy of the show Succession, is at the heart of the most important problem in the history of humanity.
Board members seldom fire CEOs, because founding CEOs are the single most powerful force of a company. If that company is a rocketship like OpenAI, worth $80B, you don’t touch it. So why did the OpenAI board fire Sam? This is what they said:
No standard startup board member cares about this in a rocketship. But OpenAI’s board is not standard. In fact, it was designed to do exactly what it did. This is the board structure of OpenAI:
To simplify this, let’s focus on who owns OpenAI the company, at the bottom (Global LLC):
- OpenAI the charity has a big ownership of the company.
- Some employees and investors also do.
- And Microsoft owns 49% of it.
Everything here is normal, except for the charity at the top. What is it, and what does…