One such implementation is the GPT builder that OpenAI unveiled earlier this month during its inaugural Developer Day. The feature allows companies and creators to develop their own “agents,” which can autonomously carry out tasks. Shopify, Discord and Snap are early users of the builder platform.
The functionality of these agents would undoubtedly be threatened if OpenAI were to go down, said Aaron, making them potentially unusable for brands. Snap declined to comment for this story. Shopify and Discord did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Another example of an advanced implementation that is at risk is Spotify’s AI DJ, which entirely depends on OpenAI’s technology to personalize content. Spotify declined a request for comment.
Then there’s Coca-Cola, which is a direct partner with OpenAI via its deal with Bain. It is unclear how the partnership may be altered should OpenAI fall apart, or whether the terms of the deals will be re-evaluated should OpenAI’s internal structure change. Coca-Cola declined a request for comment.
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Brands with less advanced implementations of OpenAI’s technology will face some initial disruption, but the long-term impact will likely be negligible. For less customized implementations, switching between large language models (LLMs) is relatively seamless, said Aaron. That is, brands could transition from OpenAI to a provider like Google if the former becomes too risky to use.
Such a move points to what may end up being for marketers the moral of this meltdown: Don’t put your eggs in one basket.
“This is a wake-up call for marketers to understand there are many AI tech providers out there,” said Tim Rodgers, founder and chairman of digital agency Rehab.
While the events over the last few days have been nothing short of shocking, Rodgers is still confident that AI is here to stay, especially for marketers that have been so keen to adopt it across a bevy of use cases.
“I don’t think this is an FTX moment,” he said, referring to the former crypto exchange that imploded last fall.
Why was CEO Sam Altman fired?
On Friday afternoon, OpenAI quietly announced that it was parting ways with Altman, the company’s chief executive and one of its handful of co-founders. Altman has risen to stardom over the past year in the wake of his company’s wildly successful ChatGPT platform, appearing on podcasts, in magazines and even congressional settings as a de facto spokesperson for the AI industry.
OpenAI’s board members had apparently grown frustrated with Altman, who—in their minds—had become distracted from the core mission of the company. OpenAI was started as a research lab dedicated to the responsible development of AI, yet Altman had his sights on its commercial opportunities.
OpenAI’s board had also grown concerned that Altman was spreading himself too thin across other projects, and not “candid in his communications.” He reportedly was in talks to launch a separate AI startup focused on a commercial product, as well as a chips business meant to rival that of Nvidia.
In addition to firing Altman, OpenAI demoted President and board member Greg Brockman—a close confidant of Altman’s. Brockman then left the company.
Read more about ChatGPT here
What is going on with OpenAI now?
OpenAI employees, just as surprised as everyone else by the firing, rose up in defense of their former CEO. A letter was quickly drafted that demanded Altman’s reinstatement as well as the resignation of the four-person board that fired him. More than 730 of the company’s roughly 770 employees have signed the letter, which also threatens their own resignations if the demands are not met.
Many of OpenAI’s customers are equally livid. Since the fiasco began, over 100 clients have reportedly contacted Anthropic, an AI startup that competes with OpenAI. Others have reached out to Google Cloud and AI startup Cohere, while others are contemplating switching to Microsoft’s Azure service, which incorporates OpenAI technology. These contingency plans were reported by The Information.
Anthropic, which recently received a $2 billion investment from Google, announced new updates to its Claude chatbot on Tuesday—no doubt an attempt to court some of OpenAI’s now-ambivalent customers.
Despite Microsoft maintaining a 49% stake in OpenAI (the tech giant has invested $13 billion in the company), its executives were given just as much warning as anyone else about Altman’s firing. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and others spent the weekend scrambling to come up with a solution before markets opened on Monday, ultimately deciding to bring on Altman and Brockman to lead an AI research team at Microsoft.
Meanwhile, investors that poured money into OpenAI are considering whether to file a lawsuit against the company’s board, according to Reuters. This group stands to lose out on millions of dollars that, a week ago, seemed virtually guaranteed given OpenAI’s mounting success.
Who is on OpenAI’s board?
OpenAI’s board of directors currently consists of OpenAI Chief Scientist and Co-Founder Ilya Sutskever, Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley and Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology’s Helen Toner.
What happens to Open AI moving forward?
This is still very much a developing situation. In a week’s time, OpenAI could be non-existent, subsumed by Microsoft, sold to some other company or back to what it looked like last Friday morning. For the latter to happen, however, Altman will likely need to be returned to his executive position, and the OpenAI board may need to step down.
At the time of writing, OpenAI is reportedly trying to quell employees from jumping ship, per Bloomberg. It has also reportedly sought out rival Anthropic for a potential merger, though Anthropic declined, per The Information.
The future of OpenAI, and all its coveted technology, is anyone’s guess. What is not debatable, however, is the level of influence that the AI industry now carries in the advertising and marketing ecosystem.
Contributing: Garett Sloane