Can OpenAI survive the turmoil?

ChatGPT developer OpenAI is in crisis mode after ousting Sam Altman, who was quickly picked up by Microsoft

OpenAI, the company that developed popular generative artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT, is currently in crisis mode after days of chaos, sparking speculation over whether the valuable AI startup will be able to continue at all.

Since OpenAI's board of directors fired Sam Altman as CEO on Friday and failed to negotiate his reinstatement over the weekend, the situation has only devolved further.

OpenAI's former CEO Sam Altman

Then-OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speaks during a meeting in Paris on May 26, 2023. (Photo by JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

On Monday, Microsoft announced it had hired Altman and OpenAI co-founder and president Grego Brockman to lead a new advanced AI research team at Microsoft. Then, more than 660 of OpenAI's 770 or so employees signed a letter threatening to leave for Microsoft, too, unless Altman is brought back and OpenAI's board members step down.

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However, if nearly all of OpenAI's employees leave, that could be a great gift to Microsoft, according to The Kobeisser Letter (TKL).

The OpenAI logo is seen on a mobile phone

The OpenAI logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen which displays the ChatGPT home screen, on March 17, 2023, in Boston. OpenAI's ouster of CEO Sam Altman led to an employee revolt that could be Microsoft's gain. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File / AP Newsroom)

Microsoft has already invested around $13 billion in OpenAI since 2019 through its partnership with the non-profit, and TKL said in a post on X Monday afternoon that Microsoft "just pulled off one of the greatest ‘acquisitions’ of all time."

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The publication noted that prior to Altman's departure, OpenAI was worth roughly $90 billion, but after Monday's developments, Microsoft could end up with "potentially 85% of OpenAI without spending a dollar yet," and suggested that led to the jump in Microsoft's market value for the day.

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"This situation has emphasized a key point: startups are worthless without the right people," TKL wrote. "If OpenAI is unable to retain its staff, they will quickly lose their competitive advantage. The AI world is shifting."

Adam Kobeissi, founder of TKL, told FOX Business he does not believe OpenAI will disappear, but he does think Microsoft came out ahead and the markets are rewarding the company for it. "I think if they play this right, they could become the most valuable company in the world," he said.

Kobeissi said while there is still a chance Altman could return to OpenAI if the board stepped down, at this point, that is not very likely because Microsoft will now likely do whatever it needs to do not to lose Altman.

Meanwhile, other companies are wasting no time making offers to OpenAI employees, too. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said in an X post Monday afternoon his company would match any OpenAI researcher's compensation and equity for them to "immediately" join the Salesforce's AI research team. 

Kobeissi said that sign shows "it's very important that Microsoft stays on top of it, especially since we're still early on in the AI race."

Altman himself addressed the concerns over OpenAI's future in a post on X, saying he and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella were already discussing the situation.

Satya Nadella speaks as Sam Altman looks on

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (R) speaks as then-OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, left, looks on during the OpenAI DevDay event on Nov. 6, 2023 in San Francisco. Altman delivered the keynote address at the first ever Open AI DevDay conference. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images / Getty Images)

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"Satya and my top priority remains to ensure openai continues to thrive," Altman wrote, saying "we are committed to fully providing continuity of operations to our partners and customers." He added, '[T]he openai/microsoft partnership makes this very doable."