⚙️ Satya Nadella Comes Out on TOP

Good morning. Absolute chaos has unfolded at OpenAI following the firing of CEO Sam Altman amidst a backdrop of staff ultimatums and investor pressures. Find out more in today’s newsletter.

In today’s newsletter:

  • 👑 A Game of Thrones in AI: OpenAI's Leadership Chaos

  • 👩‍💻 Menlo Ventures raises $1.35B fund to back AI startups

  • 🎥 Meta's new AI generates eerily realistic short videos

  • 👁️ Toku's AI scans retinas to predict heart risks

  • 💰French billionaire launches Kyutai, a $330M open AI lab


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A Game of Thrones in AI: OpenAI's Leadership Chaos

In what has felt like an episode of Game of Thrones, OpenAI – the AI giant behind ChatGPT and DALL-E – found itself in a labyrinth of leadership turmoil. The weekend began with the sudden firing of CEO Sam Altman, but in an unexpected development, Altman and his team are now joining forces with Microsoft, marking a significant shift in the AI industry's landscape and bringing a new dimension to the company's leadership dynamics.

Timeline of events

Thursday, November 16:

  • Ilya Sutskever's Call to Altman: Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI's Chief Scientist, sets a critical conversation in motion with Sam Altman, scheduling an impromptu meeting with him on Friday.

Friday, November 17:

  • Sam Altman Fired: On the Friday call, OpenAI’s board abruptly terminated Altman as CEO, citing transparency issues in his communications with the board. Altman then takes to X to confirm the rumors before OpenAI’s announcement.

  • Mira Murati Appointed Interim CEO: Murati, instrumental in OpenAI's technological advancements as CTO, steps in as interim CEO.

  • Greg Brockman's Resignation: Co-founder and President Brockman resigns, indicating deep internal rifts within OpenAI.

Saturday, November 18:

  • Board Reconsiders Altman's Return: The board engages in discussions about potentially reinstating Altman as CEO.

  • Investor Reaction: Investors, crucial to OpenAI's strategic support, voice their discontent, with some advocating for Altman's return.

Sunday, November 19:

Altman's Tweet: Sam Altman tweets, "I love the team at OpenAI so much," sparking further speculation. This could be interpreted as a signal of solidarity with the team, a hint at his potential return, or simply an expression of affection amidst the crisis.

Venture Capitalist Support Sam: Plenty of VCs stand in support of Sam on X

Employees' Social Media Activism: Staff's activity and interactions with Altman’s tweet intensifies the speculation around Altman's status and the organization's internal dynamics. (The screenshot below is even after Sam Altman had confirmed his move to Microsoft)

Board's Indecision and New Venture Considerations: As the OpenAI board is still hesitating, Altman and Brockman are contemplating a new AI venture, which, if started, would surely see many OpenAI employees join them. There are also rumors that a group of investors in OpenAI would also back Altman in this venture.

Monday 20th November:

Altman Joins Microsoft: In a surprising turn of events, Sam Altman, along with Greg Brockman and colleagues, will be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team.

Statement from Satya Nadella: Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella, released a statement reaffirming the company's commitment to its partnership with OpenAI. He expressed confidence in Microsoft's product roadmap and its ability to continue innovating, particularly following the announcements at Microsoft Ignite.

New Leadership at OpenAI: Satya Nadella also conveyed his anticipation of working with Emmett Shear, the Co-founder of Twitch, and OpenAI's new leadership team, signaling a shift in the collaboration dynamics between Microsoft and OpenAI.

Our Take


A compelling theory as to why this all happened is the theory that there’s been a breakthrough in AGI. It suggests that OpenAI may have achieved a significant breakthrough in Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), which alarmed Ilya Sutskeve (Chief Scientist at OpenAI). This aligns with Altman's recent hint about a “major discovery” in the past few weeks and Sutskever's cryptic tweet on October 6th, “If you value intelligence above all other human qualities, you’re gonna have a bad time.”

Microsoft's Market Cap Surge

Following the announcement of Sam Altman and Greg Brockman joining Microsoft, the tech giant saw a substantial increase in its market capitalization. A tweet noted that Microsoft's stock ($MSFT) jumped from $360 to $376, adding around $115 billion (equivalent to 1.4 times OpenAI's valuation) to its market cap within just 60 minutes, in turn, reflecting the market's positive reception to the news and underscoring the high value placed on AI leadership and expertise in the current tech landscape. Satya Nadella comes out on top…

Strategic Reunion at OpenAI

In a significant development, Emmett Shear, co-founder of Twitch, has taken up the mantle as the new interim CEO of OpenAI, stepping out of retirement for this pivotal role. Coinciding with his appointment, Kyle Vogt, another Twitch co-founder and the founder of Cruise, stepped away from his role at Cruise today. Is that a coincidence, or is there perhaps more to it…?

The Importance of your Board

For those of you running a startup, the unfolding events at OpenAI serve as a crucial reminder of the significance of your governance structure and board of directors. The tech industry is replete with examples that highlight how critical a board's composition and alignment with the company's vision can be.

Take the recent situation with Sam Altman at OpenAI, which mirrors a notable historical precedent: Steve Jobs at Apple. Jobs, ousted from Apple in 1985 due to disagreements with the board, made a triumphant return in 1997, leading the company through a period of groundbreaking innovation. Similarly, the turmoil surrounding Altman’s departure from OpenAI emphasizes how board decisions can have far-reaching implications, not just for the CEO but for the entire company’s trajectory.

This serves as a cautionary tale for startups: the alignment between your board and your company's long-term vision is essential. Misalignment can lead to significant upheavals, as seen in the cases of Altman and Jobs, underscoring the importance of careful consideration when structuring your board of directors.

We’re still on our losing streak…

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👩‍💻 Menlo Ventures raises $1.35B fund to back AI startups

Menlo Ventures has raised a new $1.35B fund with plans to invest heavily in AI startups. The VC firm says it believes AI innovations will spark exciting new companies. The new capital is spread across Menlo's flagship venture fund, a growth fund, and affiliated funds. Menlo has seen success with past investments like Uber and Warby Parker.

🎥 Meta's new AI generates eerily realistic short videos

Meta unveiled Emu Video, an AI that generates 4-second video clips from text captions. The clips often look convincingly real but have some flaws. The use of AI like this raises concerns about impacts on artists and animators.

👁️ Toku's AI scans retinas to predict heart risks

Startup Toku uses AI to analyze retinal scans and predict cardiovascular disease risks. Its platform, CLAiR, aims to provide affordable, non-invasive heart screening. The FDA granted breakthrough status, expediting Toku's path to market by the end of 2025.

💰French billionaire launches Kyutai, a $330M open AI lab

French billionaire Xavier Niel is funding Kyutai, a new nonprofit AI research lab in Paris. With a budget of $330 million, Kyutai will focus on open-source AI research. The lab aims to attract top researchers and release models, code, and data publicly.

  • NightCafe: AI-powered tool for artistic image creation. (link)

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  • Fliki: Turn text into professional AI-generated videos. (link)

  • Lumen5: AI-driven platform for creating engaging videos. (link)

  • WARMER.ai: AI-powered sales tool to warm up leads and improve engagement. (link)

  • DeepBrain AI: AI tool for lifelike video synthesis. (link)

  • TabNine: Enhance your coding experience with this AI-powered code completion tool. (link)

  • Runway: Creative toolkit for using AI in video and image production. (link)

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