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OpenAI has been considered the darling of the artificial intelligence gold rush that sent tech stocks flying to new heights. Now, after the company’s board of directors removed CEO Sam Altman, 95% of the company’s 770 employees have threatened to quit, while some of its customers are starting to look for the exits. And this could create an opportunity for others.
“OpenAI is dead to all businesses building with it,” Barney Hussey-Yeo, founder of AI personal finance app Cleo, which was built on OpenAI’s GPT-4, told Forbes. The startup plans to switch to Anthropic’s Claude model and Meta’s Llama 2.
Startups that rely on the GPT technology may be scrambling to hedge their bets, a potential boon for the AI giant’s competitors.
In its latest step to regulate cryptocurrency, the SEC sued Kraken, one of the largest crypto exchanges, on Monday, alleging it had illegally operated without registering as a securities exchange. The SEC said that Kraken has illegally made “hundreds of millions of dollars” since 2018, and alleges it “has deprived investors of significant protections” by operating while unregistered. Kraken said in a statement that it plans to “vigorously defend our position in court.”
Elon Musk’s X filed a lawsuit against Media Matters on Monday, accusing the media watchdog of defaming the company after several major companies pulled ads from the platform following a report by the group that claimed advertisements from those firms appeared below hateful and antisemitic posts. The defamation suit claims Media Matters’ actions created a “false impression” about how the ads are displayed for a typical user, with a scenario that is “manufactured, inorganic and extraordinarily rare.”
BUSINESS + FINANCE
Tech stocks surged Monday following the series of events around Altman’s ouster and in anticipation of chipmaker Nvidia’s earnings report later today, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gaining 1.1% by mid-afternoon. OpenAI’s ChatGPT fueled bullishness for big tech’s earning potential when it debuted last November, and the Nasdaq is on pace to notch its best month since last July this November.
MORE: The biggest winner of OpenAI’s turmoil might ultimately be Microsoft, whose shares surged to an all-time high of $377.10 after the company said it tapped Altman and former OpenAI President Greg Brockman to join as the heads of its newly formed “advanced AI research” unit. The move helped the tech giant consolidate its growing power over one of the most exciting new technologies in years.
Over half of American shoppers are expected to skip Black Friday, considered the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. Some predict customers will wait it out until later in the season, expecting retailers to offer even steeper discounts. But despite concerns of a slowdown, retail sales are estimated to climb more than 3% from last year to $957 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.
WEALTH + ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Bill Gates shared his recommendations for winter reads and listens, a more than decade-long Christmas tradition for the billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft cofounder. This year, his selections focus on existential issues like climate change, the state of technological innovation and our own biological evolution, plus a Spotify playlist with hits like “Joy to the World” and “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” by John Lennon.
TECH + INNOVATION
Two key executives have now resigned from beleaguered self-driving vehicle company Cruise: CEO Kyle Vogt, and now, the firm’s other cofounder, chief product officer Dan Kan. The exodus follows an October accident where a Cruise autonomous vehicle dragged a pedestrian 20 feet, and shortly after, the California DMV yanked the company’s operating permit. Cruise then pulled all of its remaining AVs from its operational cities.
MORE: General Motors CEO Mary Barra attempted to re-energize the staff of Cruise, which is its subsidiary, in an all-hands video conference call, saying she and GM’s leadership “believe” in the “mission” of autonomous vehicles.
Emmett Shear, OpenAI’s new interim CEO and past chief executive at Twitch, has made many public comments about sexual dynamics between men and women, engaging in discussions about rape fantasy statistics, sex and power, and the controversial pickup artistry book The Game. It’s unclear if the OpenAI board was aware of such remarks. At Twitch, Shear faced criticism for his handling of sexual abuse claims made against creators at the streaming platform.
SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT
Shakira reached a last-minute settlement ahead of her trial in a Spanish tax evasion case that was set to begin in Barcelona. Spanish tax authorities claimed that the pop star had evaded taxes in the years 2012, 2013 and 2014, and she initially faced an eight-year prison sentence and a fine of 24 million euros.
SCIENCE + HEALTHCARE
The mean global temperature briefly crossed a critical threshold of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, likely for the first time, on Friday—a level that scientists have warned will have disastrous impacts on the planet. The 2015 Paris Agreement agreed to work toward limiting the rise of global temperatures to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and though Friday’s numbers were a brief occurrence, they could serve as a warning for how quickly temperatures are rising.
The federal government is allowing households to order an additional pack of four free Covid-19 tests through the mail, ahead of a potential increase in cases during the holiday season. In September, the USPS announced the return of the program after various pauses to conserve supply, but limited orders to one four-pack of tests per address. If you did not place an order since the program restarted in late September, you’re eligible to order two four-packs of tests at COVIDTests.gov.
TRAVEL + LIFESTYLE
Severe thunderstorms, wind and snow are expected to disrupt a busy travel week ahead of Thanksgiving. The bad weather predictions put millions of Americans’ travel plans at risk, though most of the country will experience dry conditions by Thanksgiving day.
TRENDS + EXPLAINERS
The nonprofit organization that oversees OpenAI has an unusual board of directors: directors hold no equity in OpenAI or other compensation, and profits are secondary to the company’s mission of creating a safe artificial general intelligence. The people who made the decision to fire Sam Altman include the CEO of answers site Quora, an adjunct senior management scientist at RAND Corporation, the director of strategy and foundational research grants at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology and a sole remaining cofounder.
DAILY COVER STORY
TOPLINE Carrots are having a moment, thanks to popular social media recipes like honey balsamic and roasted parmesan carrots. Americans are expected to consume 100 million pounds this Thanksgiving—roughly five ounces for every human being in the country.
Most of those carrots are produced by just two companies, Bolthouse and Grimmway, which were both acquired by buyout firms in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
Such market consolidation often leads to shoppers paying more: Since 2019, carrot producer prices have increased more than 40%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, outpacing the 22% inflation in the U.S. economy.
Consumers, workers and neighbors of the two producers in Southern California’s Cuyama Valley are calling for a boycott of Big Carrot over the amount of water the farms are sucking out of the ground.
Together, Grimmway and Bolthouse pump a large amount of the area’s water, or about what’s used by a medium-sized city like Santa Barbara. Local residents say they expect their wells to dry up if the carrot farms keep pumping like they do—Grimmway CEO Jeff Huckaby told Forbes his company has already cut back on the amount of acreage it farms—and the two carrot producers have joined forces to defend their thirst in court.
The battle in Cuyama Valley is an example of the kinds of water fights that are surfacing across California. Farming has depended on irrigation for decades. Those years of pumping water and spraying it over crops through sprinklers or complex drip irrigation systems have had drastic implications, including threats of sinkholes, a receding water table that makes it tougher to dig wells, and the threat of some of them drying out.
Grimmway and Bolthouse can move on, unlike most of the residents in New Cuyama, Pomona College environmental analysis and politics professor Heather Williams, an expert on water issues, told Forbes.
“These are their homes, their small farms. If the well goes dry, it’s worth basically nothing,” she said. “They can’t pay lawyers for 10 years of litigation.”
WHY IT MATTERS “Thanksgiving meals are all about gluttony,” says Forbes staff writer Chloe Sorvino. “But there are many hidden costs to growing pretty much any food, and that goes especially for the humble holiday carrot.”
FACTS AND COMMENTS
The vast majority of OpenAI’s employees signed an open letter on Monday calling for the board to resign and reinstate former CEO Sam Altman, or face mass resignations. One segment of the staff, immigrant visa holders, signed the letter with more at stake:
95%: Portion of OpenAI staff who signed a letter to the company’s board, threatening to resign
$10,000: Estimated cost for legal paperwork for a visa renewal
‘It’s a lot more brave to be an immigrant here’: “Knowing that you only have 60 days to find a new job or leave the country … These people might have to change their entire lives,” said Atal Agarwal, founder of Immigrant First
STRATEGY AND SUCCESS
Some bosses keep employees in the same position in the hopes of holding onto their unique abilities or contributions, a practice known as “career blocking.” But this can be harmful to workers, who feel stagnated and are prevented from growing in their careers. If you are in this situation, even if it feels uncomfortable, set up conversations with your boss, HR and company leaders to face the problem head-on.
A South American nation elected a far-right populist figure as president over the weekend, reflecting a significant political shift in the populace. The newly-elected president of which country is critical of central banks and pro-bitcoin?
ACROSS THE NEWSROOM
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