Where there’s crisis, there’s opportunity. And that is certainly the case with the OpenAI saga that’s playing out right now.
This past weekend, OpenAI – the world’s most preeminent AI startup – fell into a leadership crisis when the firm’s board of directors ousted its CEO, causing an employee revolt.
This crisis is messy. Some pundits are saying it pushes back or even ends the AI Boom that we’ve seen over the past year.
But we think that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Instead, we’re confident that the OpenAI crisis will meaningfully accelerate the AI Boom over the next two years.
Breaking Down the OpenAI Boardroom Drama
The recent developments at OpenAI mark a critical inflection point into what I’m calling Act II of the AI Boom: A rapid and immensely successful “profit push” that will turn AI from a research concept into a series of world-changing products and services.
You know the headline developments.
- OpenAI’s board of directors suddenly fired CEO Sam Altman in a move that no one saw coming – not even Microsoft (MSFT), OpenAI’s biggest investor and supporter.
- Employees and investors were outraged. Multiple OpenAI execs announced their resignations. OpenAI’s investors, specifically Microsoft, were reportedly furious. They spent the whole weekend leading negotiations to reinstate Sam Altman as CEO. OpenAI’s executive team assisted with these efforts.
- It seemed such efforts would work – until late Sunday evening, when OpenAI’s board again shocked everyone by announcing the hiring of the former Twitch CEO to replace Altman.
- Microsoft responded by hiring Sam Altman and former OpenAI execs to lead a new advanced AI research team at Microsoft.
- About 700 of OpenAI’s 770 employees have since signed a letter to OpenAI’s board essentially calling for the board’s resignation, else they’re all leaving to join Sam at Microsoft.
Needless to say, it was a wild weekend. And the saga certainly isn’t over. We think it is likely that the board finally capitulates, they all resign, Sam does officially come back as OpenAI’s CEO, and a new board is established.
But what does all this mean for OpenAI, Microsoft, and the AI Boom more broadly?
In short, nothing but very good things.
The OpenAI Crisis: A Critical Inflection Point for the AI Boom
I know that may sound counterintuitive. How could all this chaos and outrage imply a bright future ahead for AI stocks?
Because these developments confirm something crucial. Truly powerful artificial intelligence – so-called “superintelligence” – is a lot closer than anyone thinks. And AI technology developments are progressing a lot faster than anyone thought possible.
In fact, it all comes back to the question: Why did OpenAI’s board push out Sam Altman in the first place?
Because the firm had just stumbled across a major AI breakthrough that was so powerful it frightened some members of the board – so much that they were willing to blow up the company to stop that AI from getting out.
In an interview just last week – when he was still CEO of OpenAI – Altman said that sometime in early November, he was in the room when OpenAI made a major breakthrough that pushed the frontier of discovery forward. He called it just the fourth such major breakthrough in OpenAI’s eight-year history.
Presumably, this breakthrough was the demonstration of GPT-5 – the next evolution of OpenAI’s core AI technology.
Reports suggest that this AI demonstration was so powerful that it created mixed feelings among OpenAI’s board. Some, like Altman, were excited about this new AI’s economic prospects. Others were frightened about its dangers.
It seems that internally, Altman and the board agreed to proceed carefully with this new AI. But Sam’s excitement got the best of him, and over the next few weeks, he went on a huge fundraising tour touting this new AI to top investors. The board got worried he was moving too quickly and fired him.
A lot of folks are caught up in the boardroom drama – and I get it; this thing is playing out like a soap opera. But we are more focused on the fact that this is all happening because AI is progressing incredibly quickly.
AI Boom, Act II: The Profit Push
That brings us to our second big takeaway here: The “profit push” has begun.
OpenAI was a for-profit organization under the control of a non-profit parent organization. Following this past weekend’s developments, it has become clear that the non-profit parent organization was “holding back” the for-profit firm from growing as fast as it could in terms of new products and services.
Those non-profit shackles have been broken.
Whether Altman returns to OpenAI or not, the stage is set for a major for-profit push of next-gen AI over the coming months.
If he returns, the board will certainly be fired. The non-profit organization will likely be scrapped. And Microsoft will likely exert control to put experienced business leaders with profit goals on the board. The result? A new, refreshed OpenAI geared entirely toward profits.
If he doesn’t return, all of OpenAI’s talent will flock to Microsoft (again, about 90% of employees say they will leave). Microsoft will essentially rebuild OpenAI as a subsidiary of its company. And of course, that subsidiary will be entirely for-profit.
Either way, on a standalone basis or under the Microsoft umbrella, Sam Altman and team are about to make a huge push toward monetizing and commercializing their recent AI breakthrough.
Understanding the Broader Implications for the AI Industry
And that push will likely move incredibly fast. This past weekend, Sam Altman, Satya Nadella (Microsoft CEO), and OpenAI’s executive team were all very publicly rebuffed – not once, but twice.
And powerful people like that don’t take too kindly to being publicly embarrassed.
It is my best guess that they will move quickly, aggressively, and forcefully on their next AI pursuit.
Let’s also not forget: This isn’t happening in a vacuum.
They know that this all started because OpenAI stumbled across some remarkable AI breakthrough. And they know that what comes next is an aggressive push to commercialize and monetize that breakthrough.
So, if I’m Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, or any top AI exec, what am I telling my team right now?
It’s “go time.” Either go hard, or lose this race to Satya and Sam.
And the same is true for investors.
This weekend’s developments propelled us into Act II of the AI Boom – a rapid and immensely successful “profit push” that will transform AI from a concept into a series of world-changing products and services.
The Final Word on the OpenAI Shakeup
And I’m not alone in this thinking.
Why else do you think Microsoft stock soared to all-time highs yesterday? Why else has the Global X Artificial Intelligence & Technology ETF (AIQ) popped to fresh 2023 highs?
The smart money sees the writing on the wall.
This is the start of the profit gold rush in AI.
Frankly, I’ve never been more excited about the prospects of investing in AI stocks.
We’ve long held the belief that 2023 was just the start of a multi-year boom in AI stocks that will last for this entire decade.
This weekend’s developments imply that 2024 and 2025 could be the best two years of that boom.
We couldn’t be more excited.
And in fact, we have the best way for you to play Act II of this boom.