Are Former Meta and Google Employees Responsible for OpenAI’s Success?

Brains from Google and its sibling DeepMind are behind OpenAI’s success in releasing the viral chatGPT 

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This anecdote cannot be more relevant when rival tech companies resort to something synonymous with poaching. When OpenAI could release a chatGPT, that got wildly popular within a few weeks of its release, no one bothered to ask how could a startup could beat a mammoth company like Google. Now the facts are out in the open. OpenAI hired around 5 Google employees and a Google researcher at least months before the release of chatGPT reports Business Insider. Further, the data from LeadGenius and Punks & Pinstripes suggests that OpenAI has a significant number of employees who earlier worked for Google and its AI research lab DeepMind. The data reveals, OpenAI has around 59 ex-Google employees and around 34 ex-Meta employees. As per the data, OpenAI has hired employees from Amazon and Apple too. As Greg Larking, the CEO of Punks & Pinstripes opines, data they have published is a ‘wakeup call’ for big tech companies.

As reported by Business Insider, Larking said, “If nothing else, OpenAI is a sign that Big Tech, especially Google, isn’t optimizing its investments in its employees”. He added, “A lot of AI talent has been working on secondary products in innovation labs like Alphabet X. For many, this means that they rarely see their work have a meaningful impact on the company’s core products or earnings.”

The trend of taking in rival companies’ employees sets a precedent for start-ups; essentially it explains how they are evolving, says Rick Kreidfeldt, a Punks & Pinstripes member and CTO of Sorenson Communications. “The team is largely composed of people who spent a lot of time in large tech companies who have now left. This is a stark difference from when Mark Zuckerberg was building Facebook from his Harvard dorm room,” he laments.

When OpenAI was founded in 2015 as a nonprofit, tech industry leaders like Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn’s former CEO, Elon Musk, and Peter Thiel, declared to work towards developing artificial intelligence “in a way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole”, and contributed around $1billion towards the cause. As per a report filed by The Information, OpenAI roped in a few Google employees who played an instrumental role in OpenAI’s success in developing the versatile chatGPT. That apart, OpenAI has openly acknowledged in its blog post, ex-Google workers Barret Zoph, Liam Fedus, Luke Metz, Jacob Menick, and Gontijo Lopes, while releasing chatGPT.

A quick look at some of the tweets by a few Google employees reveals what is making these employees jump ship. “Excited to share that I joined @OpenAI after 3 incredible years at Google Brain! Can’t wait to work on #ChatGPT and help drive the future of AI”, tweeted AI research engineer Hyung Won Chung. Jason Wei, an AI engineer at Google Brain tweeted “can’t wait to see the impact of AI on society after leaving Google in favor of Open AI.”

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