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Prediction: OpenAI Will Become Whole Again

The circus ends this week | Enjoy your holiday and BFCM sales

Namaste! We’re in the full holiday / seasonal swing. First up, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You’re all going to be busy with sales or spending time with family and friends, so we’ll keep today’s newsletter short.

OpenAI Circus

With all the hoopla around OpenAI, I wanted to chime in with a simple prediction:

OpenAI will become whole again before the end of the week. Meaning:

  • Sam and Greg will be reinstated by the end of the week

  • The board will ‘transition’ out and be completely replaced

  • Microsoft will gain a board seat

  • Governance will change with a new charter

  • The 700+ team will have a great holiday before they get back to work again on Monday

How else could this play out? Well, many ways, but based on everything that’s happened up until now, I think this course makes the most sense.

The rest of this post is pure speculation and opinion.

The Board

I’ll state the obvious. The board fcked up. Their decision to fire Sam without recourse or even a little foresight, regardless of whether he lied or wasn’t as transparent as they wanted him to be, was rash, stupid, and reckless.

When your board is a group of, say 4-5 people, maybe there’s not enough space in the board bubble for someone to state the obvious: maybe this isn’t a good idea.

Serious Schitts Creek GIF by CBC

When you’re managing a company with a valuation north of $80 billion dollars, and this is the guy who got you there, you don’t just fire him without a plan, right?

Like, say informing investors of your decision before you make it. Or getting a pulse of the team before turning the leadership over suddenly and abruptly (been there, done that one too many times). Or just doing a gut check with someone outside your little Board Bubble.

Eighty-billion dollars.

And because he allegedly lied? He wasn’t totally honest? Well, I’ve got news for you: most leaders lie. Sorry to spoil your reality.

Yes, there is no Santa. There is no tooth fairy. And leaders lie. It’s ok. The world will not end. Sorry, I still can’t wrap my head around the sudden firing over a lie or a series of lies, without at least talking to the man.

Talking Greys Anatomy GIF by ABC Network

Microsoft Hires Altman and Brockman

Does Satya Nadella really care whether Sam and the team join him at Microsoft? Maybe. Would he mind if they returned to OpenAI to continue the work, as long as their partnership remains intact? No, he does not.

Satya is smart. With this announcement, he put those four (now three) board members in a bind. With the backing of Microsoft, and with the majority of employees signing on to that petition to oust the board and immediately reinstate Sam as CEO, Satya put his company in a prime position to hedge whatever outcome happens.

If the board sticks to their guns, then the first mass exodus of one of the hottest tech companies in history begins. Do they all go to Microsoft? Probably. Will some end up at Google’s DeepMind or Anthropic? Maybe. Will some join Benioff at Salesforce. Perhaps.

It’s messy, but messes can be cleaned up over time. But for OpenAI, it’s absolute devastation on a scale we’ve never seen before. No, they will not recover if they continue with this course.

And if the board resigns? Then Sam returns as CEO, along with the rest of the crew, and things can stabilize again. Here, Microsoft wins with their partnership even more solidified with stronger loyalty bonds between both CEOS to boot.


Satya’s gesture is gracious, and his work behind the scenes to resolve this extraordinary blip in time is commendable, but Sam doesn’t want to go to Microsoft. He wants to build his company, not someone else’s.

No matter what happens, I can’t see Sam staying at Microsoft. It’s just not in him. He’s an entrepreneur, he cares about the things he builds, and yes, he has his own perception of self that he has to live up to.

He wasn’t just doling out advice at Y Combinator—he really believes in what he tells others, and there’s no greater expression of belief than through your own actions, not just words.

No matter what happens, Sam has the credit and the cache to figure out a way to take back control of his company. Yes, it’s his, not the board’s. Their overreach, to put it lightly, is abhorrent and remains a lesson for every ridiculous board structure that exists in the world.

As an aside, we need more diverse thoughts and opinions from smart people with different backgrounds who care about not just the money, but the journey over time. People generally suck at the long view, unfortunately, and it’s costly, in more ways than one.

If Sam was guilty of short-term thinking too, then you, as a board, can do more to communicate that to him than simply firing him.

Final Thoughts

In the end, we’re all outsiders. And I’m just another one with another opinion. So there it is. I’ll say it again. Before the end of the week, this will have been resolved and OpenAI will become whole again.

  • Sam will return as CEO (Greg, too)

  • The board will resign

  • Microsoft will gain a board seat

  • A new governance structure will replace the old, so something like this never happens again

  • OpenAI will resume on Cyber Monday, of all days, renewed and reinvigorated

Or maybe the board’s thinking was right all along but their decision (firing Sam) was reckless. And in 20 years, this board—“The Four” we’ll call them—will be praised in song and worshipped as legends, as Skynet is released and humanity looks back and says, “Oops…”

Mistake GIF

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Enjoy a nice holiday if you’re in the US. If not, enjoy lots of sales this BFCM.


p.s. Can someone at OpenAI fix ChatGPT! Thanks.

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