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By Michelai Graham Boardroom's Tech Reporter
November 26, 2023
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Tech Talk is a weekly digest by Boardroom’s Michelai Graham that breaks down the latest news from the world’s biggest tech companies and the future of industry-shaping trends like AI.
I hope you’re all recovering from turkey day and are deep in holiday shopping mode. If you need a little extra help with your lists, check out my 2023 Tech Gift Guide.
A peek into today’s edition:
Latest updates on Sam Altman and OpenAI leadership
Binance Founder Changpeng Zhao pleads guilty
Amazon announces initiative for free AI skills training
OpenAI Brings Back Sam Altman as CEO After Tumultuous Week
If you had told me a month ago that an OpenAI soap opera-like debacle would ensue by the end of the year, I would have bet against you and be wrong. For those following the turmoil in real-time, I can report that Sam Altman announced on Wednesday that he’d be rejoining OpenAI as its CEO.
If you’re still trying to catch up or want a bite-sized version of what happened, here’s a quick recap of the major events:
Friday, Nov. 17: OpenAI’s board fired Altman as CEO in an unexpected coup.
Friday, Nov. 17: OpenAI CTO Mira Murati was immediately appointed interim CEO.
Friday, Nov. 17: OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman quit as president.
Saturday, Nov. 18: Investors, most notably Microsoft, seek to reinstate Altman.
Sunday, Nov. 19: Altman was back at OpenAI’s HQ to discuss a potential return, but that went downhill.
Monday, Nov. 20: Microsoft announced that it would be hiring Altman and Brockman to lead a new advanced AI research team.
Monday, Nov. 20: OpenAI named Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear as interim CEO. Murati returned to her post as CTO.
Monday, Nov. 20: As investors threaten to write off investments, most of OpenAI’s 700+ workforce threatens to leave and join Microsoft. As many as 710 OpenAI staffers signed a letter demanding the company board to resign and reinstate Altman and Brockman.
Wednesday, Nov. 22: Altman and Brockman return to their posts at OpenAI as some board members exited.
Altman’s return to OpenAI comes with a new board and full support from its largest investor, Microsoft, and the Big Tech company’s CEO, Satya Nadella. As part of Altman and Brockman’s return, Helen Toner, Tasha McCauley, and OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutskever were removed as board members. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers joined OpenAI’s board alongside former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor, who will act as chair. Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo is the only member from OpenAI’s previous board who will continue to hold his seat.
Let’s hope this saga ends here.
Binance CEO CZ Pleads Guilty as Part of $4B Settlement
Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao, also known as CZ, has officially stepped down from his post at the world’s largest crypto exchange after pleading guilty to anti-money laundering charges in the US. CZ’s guilty plea came as part of a $4.3 billion settlement agreement Binance and CZ made with the US government to keep the crypto business operational. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said at a press conference on Tuesday that Binance and CZ willingly let money flow to terrorists, cybercriminals, and child abusers through its platform. CZ will pay $50 million in fines that will go to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Richard Teng, a senior Binance executive who joined the company in 2021, has taken over as CEO. CZ faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and he already agreed to waive his right to appeal if the sentence does not exceed 18 months, according to CNN. He’ll be sentenced in February 2024, and after CZ serves his impending prison sentence, the crypto leader will also be prohibited from operating or managing Binance for three years.
Nvidia Triples Revenue to $18B as AI Chip Demand Rises
Nvidia surpassed analysts’ revenue and earnings predictions with flying colors as the demand for AI chips continues to boom. Despite posting a strong earnings report, Nvidia shares dipped by 1% after the AI chipmaker reported that it’s preparing for a negative revenue impact next quarter due to export restrictions that will affect sales in China and other countries. Still, Nvidia generated $18.12 billion in revenue in its most recent quarter, up 34% from last quarter and up 206$ year-over-year. The company’s largest portion of revenue came from its data center business, which generated $14.51 billion, up 279% year-over-year.
Nvidia expects to generate $20 billion in revenue, plus or minus 2%, in its next quarter.
Black Mirror, Netflix’s famed anthology series about the horrors of advanced technologies, has been renewed for a seventh season. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait four years for the next installment like we did for season six.
Amazon announced a commitment to provide free AI skills training to 2 million people of all ages by 2025 as part of its new AI Ready initiative.
Meta officially broke up its responsible AI division, splitting the team across its generative AI product and AI infrastructure teams. The Big Tech company’s responsible AI team was in charge of assessing and regulating AI safety and harms across Meta products.
Apple’s Vision Pro mixed-reality headset, which still has a price tag of $3,499, will likely hit the US market in March 2024 before rolling out to additional countries by the end of the year.
Nike and RTFKT dropped two special pairs of Dunks inspired by gaming, creators, and internet culture. The sneakers are embedded with NFC chips that unlock digital experiences.
Crypto exchange Bullish announced that it will acquire crypto media company CoinDesk from the Digital Currency Group in an all-cash deal.
Elon Musk confirmed that Grok will be available to all X Premium+ subscribers as soon as next week, but I’m going to bet that he’ll expand the AI chatbot to more consumers by Q1 2024 to compete with other AI chatbots on the market.