In a surprising turn of events, OpenAI, a leading artificial intelligence (AI) startup, has reportedly approached its rival Anthropic for a potential merger. According to sources familiar with the matter, OpenAI’s board of directors initiated discussions with Anthropic’s CEO, Dario Amodei, exploring the possibility of replacing OpenAI’s current chief, Sam Altman.
The revelation comes shortly after Altman’s abrupt removal from the helm of OpenAI, prompting the board to actively seek his successor. The Information first reported this development on Monday, shedding light on the behind-the-scenes maneuvers in the competitive AI landscape.
However, the negotiations seem to have hit a roadblock as Amodei declined both proposals – rejecting the idea of replacing Altman and the prospect of merging the two prominent AI startups. OpenAI, when approached for comment, maintained silence on the matter, and board member Adam D’Angelo did not immediately respond to inquiries.
In the midst of this corporate chess game, on Sunday, the OpenAI board extended an offer to Emmett Shear, former CEO of Twitch, to step in as the interim chief, a role he accepted. Meanwhile, Altman found a new home within the ranks of Microsoft, along with other key personnel from OpenAI. This move triggered a significant backlash, with almost all of OpenAI’s 700-plus employees threatening to resign by Monday. Notably, one of the executives on OpenAI’s now reduced four-person board was among those contemplating departure.
Anthropic, OpenAI’s rival in the AI space, has secured investments from tech giants Alphabet’s Google and Amazon.com. The company’s Claude AI models have been competing for prominence with OpenAI’s well-known GPT series.
The roots of the rivalry trace back to 2020 when Anthropic’s co-founders, who were also executives at OpenAI, parted ways due to disagreements over the strategies employed for ensuring the safe development and governance of AI. The current merger discussions reflect the dynamic and rapidly evolving landscape of the AI industry, where competitors are exploring unconventional collaborations amid leadership transitions and strategic realignments.