Y Combinator’s Garry Tan Goes to the MatRead more

Before Rebirth, Microsoft’s Bing Faced Near-Death Experiences

Not long ago, Bing was the butt of jokes and a symbol of Microsoft’s misfires in the consumer market. Even some company leaders wanted to kill it. While Microsoft has breathed new life into the search engine with AI, it still faces daunting odds against Google.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Art by Clark Miller
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Art by Clark Miller
Feb. 21, 2023 6:00 AM PST

“Where is our hit?”

Steve Ballmer repeatedly directed the question at his lieutenants in the year before he stepped down as CEO of Microsoft in 2014, according to two people who heard him ask it. His biggest frustrations were Microsoft’s flops in the consumer market, including Bing, a search engine the company had introduced to great fanfare in 2009, which had failed to grab attention away from Google, they said.

Microsoft finally has people talking about a new consumer product. The company’s launch of its Bing chatbot earlier this month made waves unlike any other Microsoft product launch in recent memory. Immediately after its introduction, the media gawked at the search engine’s ability to converse with users, thanks to the artificial intelligence software that powered it, from startup OpenAI. Millions of people signed up to try out the new Bing in less than a week, while shares of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, took a nosedive following the Microsoft news and a separate Google AI announcement that was widely panned.

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