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So anyway, Microsoft, OpenAI, ChatGPT, yada yada yada, even Sam Altman has a vomit emoji face right now.
Semafor’s reporting of Microsoft eyeing a $10 billion investment in OpenAI late Monday night was just the tip of a media hype-berg.
By early afternoon Pacific time today, news of the rumored deal had morphed into an in-depth, red-hot Silicon Valley bro-mance (The Information); an exhausting, eye-popping finance lesson (Fortune); and a high-stakes poker game/arms race (Business Insider).
Even AI skeptic Gary Marcus quickly penned a Substack tome: “Is Microsoft getting the deal of the century? Or is Sam Altman unloading OpenAI at just the right time?” NOTE: Marcus updated his post as I was posting this … see what I mean? “Update: Turns out Semafor was wrong about the deal terms. If things get really really good OpenAI gets back control; I am told by a source who has seen the documents “Once $92 billion in profit plus $13 billion in initial investment are repaid [to Microsoft and once the other venture investors earn $150 billion, all of the equity reverts back to OpenAI.” In that light, Altman’s play seems more like a hedge than a firesale; some cash now, a lot later if they are hugely successful.“
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The real story behind generative AI
Of course, we can’t know what Sam Altman means by his recent puke tweet. Is he already tiring of the Microsoft/OpenAI media hype? Or is it that ChatGPT has been down many times for the past couple of days due to the insane demand? Perhaps his own December tweet about the massive cost of ChatGPT is still making his eyes water, leading to cofounder Greg Brockman’s waitlist for a future ChatGPT Professional (which asks “At what price [$ per month] would you consider ChatGPT to be so expensive that you would not consider buying it?”).
But to me, the real story around OpenAI is the future of generative AI, beyond Microsoft and OpenAI, and even Google. I’m as interested in the next guy or gal in the art of this deal. But the bigger story, I think most would agree, is how generative AI will impact business and society, both positively and negatively.
Shifting the OpenAI focus
I’m doing the best I can to keep up as a one-gal reporting passenger on the OpenAI train. I’ve been on the choo-choo since I started at VentureBeat last April, all the way from DALL-E 2 to the DALL-E API to ChatGPT. I’m trying to figure out a way to get my FitBit to buzz me every time someone predicts anything about GPT-4.
But I definitely want to make sure I keep my coverage focus, first of all, on VentureBeat’s audience of enterprise technical decision-makers. What do they need to know about how generative AI will transform their business (or not)? What are the ethical issues and legal ramifications that they need to keep in mind? How will OpenAI and other generative AI companies deal with the hidden dangers that lie beneath these incredible tools — that even Sam Altman admits to?
I have no choice but to leave it to the reporting teams of Semafor, The Information and the like to dig into the most-behind-the-scenes Big Tech news around OpenAI. But don’t be surprised to get a call or email from me looking to chat about the real AI transformations coming down the pike — for all of us.
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Author: Sharon Goldman