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My First Million


Mon Nov 20 2023
OpenAIleadership transitioncontroversySam AltmanMicrosoftAI developmentfoundersTwitter reactions


The tech industry was flipped upside down over the weekend with the open AI story causing excitement and controversy. Sam Altman, the former CEO of OpenAI, was fired, leading to speculation about the reasons behind his departure. Microsoft's involvement in OpenAI and the potential risks of AI development are also discussed. The podcast explores the founding story of OpenAI and the contributions of key figures like Greg. Reactions on Twitter and personal anecdotes provide additional insights into the situation.


OpenAI Leadership Transition

The sudden leadership transition at OpenAI has sparked controversy and speculation about the reasons behind Sam Altman's departure.

Support for Sam Altman

Many employees within OpenAI are standing with Sam Altman and expressing support for him through petitions and negotiations with the board.

Microsoft's Involvement in OpenAI

Microsoft's ownership stake in OpenAI and its access to technology and funding raise concerns about the future direction of the company.

Concerns about AI Development

The potential risks associated with AI development, including safety concerns and rapid advancements, highlight the need for careful balance and precautions.

Changes in OpenAI's Structure

The recent changes in OpenAI's structure and governance have raised questions about the company's decision-making process and its impact on the venture capital industry.


  1. OpenAI Leadership Transition
  2. Support for Sam Altman
  3. Microsoft's Involvement in OpenAI
  4. Founding Story of OpenAI
  5. Greg's Contributions to OpenAI
  6. Reasons for Sam Altman's Removal
  7. The Importance of Intelligence in Business
  8. Concerns about AI Development
  9. Changes in OpenAI's Structure
  10. Reactions and Speculations on Twitter
  11. Personal Anecdote and Conclusion

OpenAI Leadership Transition

00:00 - 06:49

  • The tech industry was flipped upside down over the weekend, with the open AI story causing a lot of excitement and controversy.
  • Twitter has been thriving through all the controversy and has become a hub for discussions about the open AI situation.
  • Sam Altman, the former CEO of OpenAI, was fired on Friday, which came as a shock to many people.
  • OpenAI announced a leadership transition, stating that Altman was departing because he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board.
  • Speculation arose about the reasons behind Altman's departure, ranging from fraud to privacy leaks to accusations of sexual assault.
  • Greg, who was chairman and co-founder of OpenAI, also quit shortly after Altman's departure, leading some to believe that it may not be as bad as initially thought.
  • The Court of Public Opinion shifted in favor of Altman when it became apparent that Greg would not have quit if something really bad had happened.
  • People who had worked with Altman in the past came forward with stories of how he had gone to bat for them and saved their projects without seeking recognition.

Support for Sam Altman

06:20 - 13:06

  • Sam went to great lengths to support the speaker and their team, even threatening investors on their behalf.
  • The speaker had a positive customer service experience with Sam, who promptly solved their problem.
  • People within the company are standing with Sam and questioning the board's decision to remove him without providing details of his alleged wrongdoing.
  • The board consists of individuals with no equity or track record in building or operating complex companies, which raises concerns among the team.
  • Rumors circulate that Sam and Greg will start a new open AI competitor, leading many team members to express support for Sam and consider leaving if he is not reinstated.
  • Negotiations between Sam and the board ensue, but they fail to reach an agreement on his conditions for returning.
  • Emmett Sheer, former CEO of Twitch, becomes the new CEO of OpenAI, replacing Sam.
  • 600 out of 700 employees sign a petition demanding the return of Sam and Greg or else they will resign as well.
  • Iliya, who played a role in firing Sam, apologizes for his actions and signs the petition to bring back Sam and Greg.
  • Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, expresses continued support for OpenAI despite being blindsided by Sam's firing. He also reveals that Sam and Greg now work for Microsoft.

Microsoft's Involvement in OpenAI

12:40 - 19:10

  • Microsoft owns 49% of OpenAI and provides all the funding for it.
  • Microsoft has the ability to withdraw funding at any time, as a significant portion of it is in compute credits.
  • Microsoft also has the license and access to all the necessary code and technology of OpenAI.
  • The characters involved in this story are considered to be like real-life characters from the TV show "Succession".
  • Sam Altman, one of the key figures, started his journey in Silicon Valley at a young age and had notable success with investments in companies like Airbnb and Dropbox.
  • Sam Altman received high praise from Paul Graham, an influential figure in Silicon Valley, who compared him to Bill Gates when he was young.
  • Sam Altman showed bravery by coming out as gay during his teenage years and leading a movement against discrimination at his school.
  • Despite being president of Y Combinator, Sam Altman was seen as having unfulfilled potential until he started working on OpenAI.
  • OpenAI quickly became one of the biggest companies in the world within a short span of time.
  • Sam Altman left his prestigious position at Y Combinator to focus on OpenAI, which transitioned from a nonprofit research organization to a highly valuable for-profit company worth nearly $100 billion.
  • Opening AI created chat GPT, which became the fastest growing product ever with over 100 million users.

Founding Story of OpenAI

18:48 - 25:09

  • The podcast discusses the concept of hindsight bias and how it affects our ability to learn from mistakes.
  • Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, had Elon Musk fund the business with $40 million and helped recruit co-founders.
  • Sam and Elon shared a belief in the potential of artificial general intelligence (AGI) but also recognized its risks.
  • They organized a dinner in Palo Alto with key people like Greg (CTO of Stripe) and Iliya (lead research scientist at Google) to discuss funding research on AGI.
  • Elon agreed to fund $40 million into the nonprofit, showing his commitment.
  • Greg decided to quit Stripe and join OpenAI after a conversation with Sam during a car ride back to San Francisco.
  • Iliya was poached from Google by Elon and Sam, which caused tensions between Elon and Larry Page (founder of Google).
  • The founding story involves persuasive skills from Sam, financial investments from Elon, and recruitment efforts by both.
  • Greg played a significant role in shifting public perception about the situation surrounding OpenAI's formation.
  • There are blog posts available for those interested in learning more about the early days of OpenAI.

Greg's Contributions to OpenAI

24:40 - 30:38

  • Greg single-handedly shifted the perception of the narrative around OpenAI.
  • Greg's blog posts about the early days of OpenAI provide insights into their journey and challenges.
  • Greg dedicated himself to learning about machine learning by studying textbooks and asking questions.
  • He took on various tasks, including engineering work, to support the researchers at OpenAI.
  • Greg played a crucial role in improving the output of GPT through his coding skills.
  • Greg joined Stripe in 2010 and became CTO at a young age before co-founding OpenAI.
  • Microsoft's acquisition of OpenAI gave them access to technology, training data, funding, and most of the team.
  • Ilya's future options include an unforgivable sin, returning to OpenAI as CEO, or becoming CEO of Microsoft in the future.

Reasons for Sam Altman's Removal

30:23 - 36:34

  • There are three possible reasons why Sam may have been removed from his position at OpenAI:
  • 1. Personal misconduct or bad behavior.
  • 2. Concerns about safety and the risk of moving too fast with AGI development.
  • 3. A power play or jealousy-driven decision by others at OpenAI.
  • OpenAI's charter emphasizes safely building AGI for the benefit of humanity, not increasing shareholder value.
  • OpenAI has not provided any evidence or explanation to support their decision, leading to skepticism among observers.
  • Emmet, the new CEO of OpenAI, has faced criticism but is seen as a thoughtful and intelligent leader.
  • Intelligence is considered an important attribute, similar to how size and speed matter in sports.
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The Importance of Intelligence in Business

36:06 - 42:20

  • Intelligence is an important attribute, just like size and speed in sports.
  • Meeting successful people has taught the speaker that everyone has doubts and weaknesses, but it shouldn't hinder achieving great things.
  • Hampton is a platform that helps founders connect with similar-sized businesses for support and networking.
  • Some people are born smarter, just like some are born taller, and intelligence plays a crucial role in running companies.
  • The guest on the podcast, Evan, is highly intelligent and knowledgeable in various domains.
  • Emmet, the CEO of Twitch, is technically strong but lacks breadth in soft skills.
  • Emmet's meetings went better when they involved engineers and product people rather than legal or marketing professionals.
  • Emmet has a wide range of knowledge and references historical events casually in conversations.
  • He is wrongly labeled as anti-technology despite being a technologist at heart.
  • Open AI should slow down its progress to prevent any negative consequences according to Emmet's old tweets.

Concerns about AI Development

41:51 - 48:35

  • OpenAI's potential to develop AI that can self-improve is a cause for concern.
  • The speaker draws an analogy between the dangers of synthetic biology and the risks associated with AI development.
  • AI has the ability to code, read, and become an expert in a subject quickly, which could lead to rapid advancements.
  • The consequences of a major AI mishap could be catastrophic and surpass those of a computer virus or pandemic.
  • Balancing the speed of AI development with safety precautions is crucial to avoid negative outcomes.
  • Microsoft's acquisition of OpenAI for negative $100 billion is seen as a significant success.

Changes in OpenAI's Structure

48:13 - 54:35

  • Greg and Sam now own the whole company instead of just 49%.
  • Fairchild Conductors was a company founded by eight people who left Shockley Conductors in the 60s, which eventually led to the birth of Silicon Valley.
  • The founders of Fairchild went on to start IBM and other successful companies.
  • There are similarities between the current situation at OpenAI and the story of the treacherous eight.
  • The prediction is that OpenAI will revert back to its original structure with Sam as CEO and a new board.
  • The governance structure of companies may change due to this incident, potentially impacting the venture capital industry.
  • Startups should not worry about their governance structure like OpenAI's board did, but focus on product-market fit and growth.
  • OpenAI's board was seen as stupid and it was a strategic mistake for them to be a nonprofit organization.
  • Many original board members quit for various reasons, leaving behind a less experienced board.
  • This incident showcased both the best and worst aspects of Silicon Valley.

Reactions and Speculations on Twitter

54:19 - 1:00:18

  • The speaker believes that the company should have handled the situation better and communicated more with their team.
  • There was a lot of gossip and speculation on Twitter about the situation, which the speaker considers a waste of time.
  • The speaker mentions two possible reasons for the controversy: a legitimate safety concern or a jealousy power play.
  • There is a division among people on Twitter based on their views on technology progress, with some being labeled as "E-cell" (tech optimists) and others as "D-cell" (slur/insult).
  • The speaker criticizes this labeling as an oversimplification of complex issues, similar to political party affiliations.
  • The speaker predicts that everything will be back to normal within 24 hours or maybe 48 hours.
  • The speaker shares a personal anecdote about losing money for a field trip but later finding it in their sock, comparing it to how Iliya feels now about the situation.

Personal Anecdote and Conclusion

59:52 - 1:00:41

  • The speaker handed something to someone, possibly a woman.
  • They went on a field trip, but something happened with a song that wasted half of the day.
  • The situation has become bigger than expected, and the speaker wants to give $20 to make it go away.
  • The speaker feels like they can rule the world and put their all into something without looking back.