Elon Musk reportedly failed takeover of ChatGPT creator OpenAI before it blew up

Joel Loynds
elon musk next to the openai logo and a bag of cash

A new report details how Elon Musk attempted to take over OpenAI in 2018, but was rebuffed by other founders. He also rescinded a large donation from the company.

In 2018 Elon Musk approached the co-founder of OpenAI, Sam Altman, about taking over the company. According to a new report from Semafor, the reasoning was that he believed Google had pulled ahead in the AI rat race.

Musk, having been rebuffed, walked away from the company entirely and even took a sizable donation with him.

OpenAI launched in 2015, backed by billionaires like Elon Musk, with a total of $1 billion being secured by investors of the start-up. GPT-1, the model that eventually morphed into ChatGPT, was launched in 2018 during this power struggle.

During the split, both parties stated that it was due to a conflict of interest, but internally it was much deeper than that. Musk’s Tesla car company was in the process of developing its own AI for its autonomous driving.

While the two would be competing for the prime spot in the AI gold rush, Tesla poached AI developer Andrej Karpathy to become the lead on AI-controlled driving.

After Musk’s departure, OpenAI pivoted to becoming a for-profit company to fund its endeavors. Namely to be able to power the next version of GPT with an artificial intelligence training method called “transformer”.

Essentially, this requires companies to consistently feed the AI data and is extremely expensive.

Six months after this move, Microsoft became a major player with a $1 billion investment. According to Semafor, this was a dual deal, as Microsoft also provided infrastructure and know-how that OpenAI didn’t possess at the time.

Microsoft has now integrated the latest version of GPT into Bing and Office.

Elon tweets through OpenAI success

Elon Musk’s failed takeover of the company obviously still burnt him. After the launch of OpenAI’s biggest success of ChatGPT, Musk has tweeted multiple times regarding his concerns for the company and its now closed-source AI.

Musk’s Twitter takeover

In 2022, Musk would buy out Twitter for $44 billion dollars and the response to his actions during his tenure as head of the company has been met with a dire response.

Twitter has now locked down its free API in favor of a closed-source, paid option. Under his tenure, he has also seen multiple major outages and removed a key security option for regular users. Two-factor authentication via SMS is no longer on the platform for non-Twitter Blue subscribers.

Musk also ordered his engineers at Twitter to enforce his account to be seen by more people.