Jasper, an Early Generative AI Winner, Cuts Internal Valuation as Growth SlowsRead more

OpenAI’s Hidden Weapon: Ex-Google Engineers

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and President Greg Brockman. Art by Clark Miller. Photos by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and President Greg Brockman. Art by Clark Miller. Photos by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Feb. 8, 2023 11:00 AM PST

As OpenAI’s web chatbot became a global sensation in recent months, artificial intelligence practitioners and investors have wondered how a seven-year-old startup beat Google to the punch. Google runs two of the world’s foremost AI research groups, yet a startup quickly developed a product, ChatGPT, that tens of millions of people have already used and that Google’s leaders view as a potential threat to its search engine.

It turns out OpenAI had a secret weapon: former Google researchers. In the months leading up to ChatGPT’s release, OpenAI quietly hired at least five Google AI employees who were instrumental in tweaking the chatbot so it could be ready to launch in November, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. And OpenAI continues to attract talent from Google. Last month, the startup hired a Google researcher who helped create a type of machine-learning model that Google has used for its search engine and that OpenAI later used for ChatGPT. At least four other researchers from Google Brain, the company’s main AI group, have moved to OpenAI in recent weeks.

Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
Former Apple design chief Jony Ive and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. Photos by Getty.
Designer Jony Ive and OpenAI’s Sam Altman Discuss AI Hardware Project
Jony Ive, the renowned designer of the iPhone, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman have been discussing building a new AI hardware device, according to two people familiar with the conversations.
From left to right: Blair Effron, Robert Pruzan and David Handler. Photos by Getty; Tidal Partners.
Exclusive Finance
Disputes, Employee Misconduct Rattle Centerview’s Silicon Valley Dreams
The San Francisco Bay Area–based bankers at Centerview Partners, the investment bank that advised Silicon Valley Bank’s owner and Credit Suisse through recent turmoil, got two doses of bad news last week.
Art by Clark Miller
Exclusive startups entertainment
MasterClass Takes a Crash Course in Frugality
MasterClass had a problem with the shoot featuring its latest star instructor, Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Photos via Getty
Exclusive microsoft ai
How Microsoft is Trying to Lessen Its Addiction to OpenAI as AI Costs Soar
Microsoft’s push to put artificial intelligence into its software has hinged almost entirely on OpenAI , the startup Microsoft funded in exchange for the right to use its cutting-edge technology.
From left: Paul Graham, Garry Tan and Michael Seibel. Photos by Getty. Art by Mike Sullivan.
Exclusive startups ai
Y Combinator’s Garry Tan Goes to the Mat
Garry Tan was in his happy place. Surrounded by food trucks and techies basking in San Francisco’s September sun, the CEO of Y Combinator snapped selfies with entrepreneurs as he meandered through a crowd of 2,700 attendees at the startup accelerator’s annual alumni event.
Art by Clark Miller
The Big Read policy
Europe Has Figured Out How to Tame Big Tech. Can the U.S. Learn Its Tricks?
Late last month in Belgium, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had a pressing question for Paul Tang, a Dutch politician and member of the European Parliament.