Following the firing of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, the company's board is said to have discussed a possible merger of the two AI companies with Anthropic CEO Dario Amodei.
This was reported by The Information, citing a source familiar with the matter. The goal of the approach was to get Amodei to become CEO of OpenAI, but he turned down the offer because of his position at Anthropic.
After Amodei's rejection, the board turned to other executives, including Nat Friedman, CEO of GitHub, and Alex Wang, CEO of Scale AI, to fill the position of interim CEO, before finally settling on former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear.
The board request shows how the balance of power in the AI market has shifted in just a few days: Anthropic is actually a more or less involuntary spin-off from OpenAI, and is only in the second tier, even if it is the closest to OpenAI in terms of chatbot-quality offerings.
The company was founded in 2021 by former OpenAI employees led by siblings Dario and Daniela Amodei, allegedly because the Anthropic Group demanded a different approach to AI safety.
This would fit well with the story that Altman was fired over safety concerns. But according to OpenAI's new interim CEO, Emmett Shear, that is not the case.
Businessinsider also reports on an internal meeting with board member Ilya Sutskever, who allegedly offered disgruntled employees two possible reasons for Altman's firing: Altman had given two people the same project, or he had given two board members different opinions about an employee.
OpenAI's employees were not satisfied with these explanations. Hundreds are threatening to quit, and the world's most prominent AI company is on the verge of collapse.
The fact that OpenAI's board is knocking on Anthropic's door shows just how massive the upheaval in the AI market is. The AI startup with its chatbot Claude 2 is said to have recently sought a valuation of between $20 billion and $30 billion.
OpenAI, on the other hand, is valued at $80-90 billion and has significantly more successful products on the market with GPT-4, DALL-E 3, and ChatGPT. If Altman does not return to OpenAI, much of that value will likely be lost. Over the chaotic weekend, more than 100 OpenAI customers are said to have contacted Anthropic.
A merger of OpenAI and Anthropic would also be complicated for Microsoft, as Google and Amazon have stakes of up to six billion dollars in Anthropic.