In November of 2022, OpenAI released to the public their AI tool ChatGPT.
Within 2 months, the service had grown to 100 million users.
Nowadays, ChatGPT and AI have become the linchpins of a multitude of online services and offerings.
”Now with AI!” is a mainstay feature it seems, with a number of companies going all in on the trend.
Even a friend of mine — who’s a graphic designer — was recently told by her boss that the brand needed to be leveraging AI more.
Across all industries, the excitement has been here for a while now, and the use of AI feels like a steam engine that — before this past weekend — showed no sign of slowing down.
That was of course until the news broke late last Friday evening that OpenAI had fired their CEO, Sam Altman.
To call this a bit of drama would be putting it lightly.
To be fair, tech companies die all the time.
Software and services enter and leave the spotlight week after week.
If you spend time on LinkedIn, you may even remember a certain audio app that was invite-only and was seemingly poised to be the next big thing.
Nowadays, you’d be hard pressed to find any mention of Clubhouse.
But this isn’t an app that was a flash in the pan.
We are talking about the single best known AI tool available to the public, with its release heralding in a new surge of marketing all around artificial intelligence.
This is a big deal.
A recent round of fundraising that was presumed to close would have put OpenAI at $80bn in valuation.
ChatGPT — or whatever letters your friends or family have adoringly thrown on the end there — has become a foundational piece of the business conversation.
At this point, it still isn’t clear exactly what led to the ousting of Sam Altman.
The board’s explanation was around Altman’s lack of candor.
The rumor mill on Monday quickly threw out all sorts of options, from a hostile coup to accusations Altman attempting to over-commercialize AI technology.
Whatever the case may be, it isn’t looking good for OpenAI.
Yesterday, members of the OpenAI team sent a petition to the board, demanding they resign and reinstate Sam Altman as CEO.
Team members of the company had “lost confidence” in the board’s ability to lead OpenAI.
If Altman was not reinstated — the team members who had signed the petition threatened to leave.
There’s two major problems here, and neither help OpenAI’s situation.
First, it wasn’t a ragtag band of Altman syncophants who spun up this petition and slammed it on some bigwig’s desk.
As of today, it’s been reported that over 700 employees have signed the petition.
Do you know how many people work at OpenAI?
In other words, 90% of OpenAI’s team is threatening to quit if Altman does not rejoin the team as CEO.
And that second problem?
Altman has reportedly already been hired by Microsoft to lead their own internal AI research division.
To be fair, Microsoft has a massive stake in OpenAI — though surprisingly no seat on its board.
It could be in their best interest to see OpenAI stay intact and Altman returned to his position.
Either way, they seem committed to Altman’s vision and his future looks to be intertwined with Microsoft.
What Can Business Leaders Learn From This?
At the end of the day, it wouldn’t be the first time a company that seemed unstoppable grinded to a halt.
Every company has its season, and we often forget how rare it is to see businesses stay at the top as long as we have with companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google.
For the average business owner, agility continues to be a key characteristic of effective strategy.
Put another way — if my entire business relies on ChatGPT… I’m sweating.
The substance of your business has to transcend the tools and services you use to operate it.
Otherwise, you will always be tethered to something else, and worse, your business’ future will always rely on the ability for someone else to manage those tools successfully.
Some Good Podcast News
This past Monday, we found out a cool statistic about the Good Advice Podcast.
Apparently, it’s ranking in the top 5% of all podcasts… in the world.
I’ve said it time and again that consistency beats quality.
To be fair — I think it’s a great podcast. But on the same token…
There really isn’t anything I’ve ever said that hasn’t already been said before.
I think this is true in business.
Business is all about people.
I’m not the first to think that, not even close.
Still — measurable results come from diligent routines.
You don’t go to the gym once (or never, for me apparently) and expect success.
The same is true in business… and podcasting.
Five years of episodes week after week has gotten us here.
With that said, thanks for all your support.
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