Weeks before OpenAI launched ChatGPT in November 2022, the buzzy artificial intelligence company’s executive team devoted an entire meeting to debating one question: should they even release the tool? “If you know Sam [Altman], he likes to cycle through topics at a high rate, so the fact that we spent this much time on one topic meant it was important,” Brad Lightcap, COO of OpenAI, told CNBC, adding, “It was a debate – people were not 100% sure that this was going to be the right thing to do or something worth our time.” At the time, Lightcap said, OpenAI had a limited number of GPUs and capacity, and largely thought of itself as a company that builds tools for developers and businesses. He recalled that Altman, CEO, was a big proponent of “just trying it,” his thesis being that there was something important and personal about text-based interaction with the models. The move paid off. ChatGPT broke records as the fastest-growing consumer app in history, and now has about 100 million weekly active users, along with more than 92% of Fortune 500 companies using the platform, according to OpenAI. Earlier this year, Microsoft invested an additional $10 billion in the company, making it the biggest AI investment of the year, according to PitchBook, and OpenAI is reportedly in talks to close a deal that would lead to an $86 billion valuation. But recently, those milestones have been eclipsed by a roller coaster couple of weeks at the company. Last month, OpenAI’s board ousted Altman, prompting resignations – or threats of resignations – including an open letter signed by virtually all of OpenAI’s employees, and uproar from investors, including Microsoft.
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