OpenAI’s GPT Store won’t be released until 2024

OpenAI is pushing the launch of its GPT store to early 2024, according to an email seen by The Verge. The company introduced its GPT Builder tool in early November at its first developer conference, giving subscribers an easy way to create their own custom AI bots. At the time, OpenAI also said it would soon release a GPT Store for users to list their GPTs and potentially make money from them. It was initially slated for a November launch. But, with the surprise ouster of OpenAI’s since-reinstated CEO Sam Altman, the month didn’t quite pan out as planned.

“In terms of what’s next, we are now planning to launch the GPT Store early next year,” OpenAI said in its email to GPT Builder users on Friday. “While we had expected to release it this month, a few things have been keeping us unexpectedly busy!” The email also notes that the company has been making improvements to GPTs based on users’ feedback, and says some updates to ChatGPT are on the way.

OpenAI has been in the process of reorganizing its leadership following the turmoil of the past few weeks. The company confirmed on Wednesday that Altman was back as CEO, with Mira Murati now in place as CTO and Greg Brockman as President. It also announced the formation of a new initial board, which includes representation from Microsoft — its biggest investor — as a non-voting observer.

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Apple is reportedly ending its partnership with Goldman Sachs

Apple and Goldman Sachs are potentially ending their partnership four years after joining forces on an Apple credit card, The Wall Street Journal reports. The companies recently extended their agreement until 2029, but Apple proposes ending the contract in the next 12 to 15 months.

Although the pair launched a high-yield savings account in April of this year, it's likely that Goldman won't be too upset by a possible breakup. Last month, reports suggested the bank was aiming to get out of the consumer lending business. It had gone as far as to tell Apple earlier this year that it would like to get out of the agreement and approached American Express to take over its side of operations. 

Goldman also recently made arrangements to sell home improvement loan company Green Sky and plans to end its other credit card partnership with General Motors. Basically, Goldman tried to diversify outside of corporate and very wealthy clients, potentially writing off billions of dollars before returning to basics. The bank told employees that any layoffs would include one year's salary.

In a statement to CNBC, an Apple representative said: "Apple and Goldman Sachs are focused on providing an incredible experience for our customers to help them lead healthier financial lives. The award-winning Apple Card has seen a great reception from consumers, and we will continue to innovate and deliver the best tools and services for them."

Apple and Goldman's partnership was never a match made in heaven for the companies or consumers. Goldman employees were frustrated with aspects such as the payment schedule and a push for mass application approval. Customers, on the other hand, reported that the bank's customer service was a nightmare, including delayed transfers and lectures from representatives, according to The Information.

The future of Apple's credit card and high-yield savings account is uncertain. The pair are part of Apple's services sector, which is seeing growing revenue compared to reductions in its general sales. Synchrony Financial, which works with Amazon and PayPal, has been exploring the possibility of taking over Goldman's role. The company originally bid against Goldman for the program.

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Sam Altman reinstated as OpenAI CEO five days after being fired

Sam Altman is returning to OpenAI as CEO after his firing five days ago launched the company onto one of the wildest rollercoaster rides in tech history, the company announced in post on X. Former president Greg Brockman, who resigned on Friday in protest, will also return, The Verge's sources say. The original board has been disbanded and replaced by a new, temporary three-man board with Bret Taylor (chair), Larry Summers and original board member Adam D'Angelo. 

The agreement has been struck "in principal," and must still be approved by all parties. The only job of the initial board will be to vet and appoint a permanent board with up to 9 members that will resent OpenAI's governance. One of those seats will likely to go Microsoft and Altman himself, The Verge reported.

Altman confirmed the news in a separate post. "With the new board and with Satya's support, I'm looking forward to returning to OpenAI and building on our strong partnership with [Microsoft]," he said. That means Altman wouldn't join Microsoft after all, though he added that he felt his decision at the time "was the best path for me and the team." 

"We are encouraged by the changes to the OpenAI board," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella added in another post. "We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance."

Another major OpenAI investor, Thrive Capital, issued a statement calling Altman's return "the best outcome for the company, its employees, those who build on their technologies and the world at large." Helen Toner, who reportedly had a hand in ousting Altman in the first place, posted "and now, we all get some sleep." 

The timeline over the last week reads almost like a telenovela. It commenced with the shocking termination of CEO Altman late in the day on Friday, November 17, followed by Brockman announcing that we would quit in protest. OpenAI then appointed CTO Mira Murati as interim CEO. The board stated that Altman was terminated for not being "consistently candid" in communications, a confusing comment that only generated more speculation. 

The drama continued on the weekend, as Nadella was reportedly "furious" over the decision, particularly because Microsoft was only given a few minutes of notice before the decision was publicly revealed. On Saturday he announced that Microsoft "remained committed" to its OpenAI partnership, but simultaneously revealed that he was hiring Altman to head a new AI division. By the end of the weekend, Murati was replaced as CEO by Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear.

On Monday, nearly the entire OpenAI staff told the board in an open letter that it would resign and join the new Microsoft subsidiary if Altman didn't return to the company as CEO. Things weren't looking great when the board failed to respond to the letter by the stated deadline, despite a post from co-founder Ilya Sutskever taking some blame for the situation. Compounding things, Shear threatened to step down as CEO, saying Altman's termination was "handled very badly."

Yesterday, it was reported that Altman was again negotiating with the board to return as CEO. However, as recently as a few hours ago, it still looked like Altman would be heading to Microsoft and perhaps taking many of OpenAI's employees with him. Shear's threat to quit reportedly lit a fire under OpenAI's board, which restarted negotiations with Altman in earnest, leading to today's announcement that he'd be coming back after all. 

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Binance founder Changpeng Zhao steps down as CEO, will plead guilty to federal charges

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao is set to plead guilty to federal money laundering charges and step down from his position at the company he founded. Zhao and the cryptocurrency exchange have reached a plea deal with the government, which conducted a multi-year investigation into the company, CNBC reports. As part of the settlement, Binance will forfeit $2.5 billion and pay a $1.8 billion fine. Zhao is slated to personally pay $50 million.

Zhao will be prohibited from having any involvement with Binance for three years. As part of the plea deal, Zhao will plead guilty later on Tuesday to violating and causing a financial institution to violate the Bank Secrecy Act, according to Reuters.

Binance, Zhao and others were accused of failing to institute an effective anti-money laundering program. According to the Justice Department, they willfully violated economic sanctions “in a deliberate and calculated effort to profit from the US market without implementing controls required by US law." Court documents state that the lack of anti-money laundering measures led to Binance facilitating almost $900 million in financial transactions in violation of sanctions against Iran between 2018 and 2022.

In a statement, Zhao confirmed he is stepping down as CEO, with the company's former global head of regional markets Richard Teng taking over the top job. "Today, I stepped down as CEO of Binance," Zhao wrote on X. "Admittedly, it was not easy to let go emotionally. But I know it is the right thing to do. I made mistakes, and I must take responsibility. This is best for our community, for Binance, and for myself." 

Zhao now plans to take a break before perhaps getting more involved in investing. However, "I can’t see myself being a CEO driving a startup again. I am content being an one-shot (lucky) entrepreneur."

The settlement resolves criminal charges related to breaching sanctions regulations, conspiracy and conducting an unlicensed money transmitter business. Meanwhile, former compliance chief Samuel Lim will reportedly face charges as part of the deal.

This is a major settlement between the company and agencies such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Treasury Department. The CFTC charged Binance, Zhao and Lim with violating its rules, as well as the Commodity Exchange Act, earlier this year.

“Binance turned a blind eye to its legal obligations in the pursuit of profit. Its willful failures allowed money to flow to terrorists, cybercriminals, and child abusers through its platform,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement. “Today’s historic penalties and monitorship to ensure compliance with US law and regulations mark a milestone for the virtual currency industry. Any institution, wherever located, that wants to reap the benefits of the US financial system must also play by the rules that keep us all safe from terrorists, foreign adversaries, and crime, or face the consequences.”

Binance will remain in operation, albeit under stricter rules. It will need to ensure it abides by anti-money laundering regulations by beefing up its compliance program. The company will also have to appoint an independent compliance monitor.

In June, the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Binance and Zhao, alleging that they helped US traders bypass restrictions and violated securities laws by, among other things, mishandling funds. The SEC also claimed that (in similar allegations to those laid against rival exchange FTX) Binance commingled billions of dollars of customer money with the company's own funds. The SEC charges were not resolved in this settlement.

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What is going on with OpenAI and Sam Altman?

It’s been an eventful weekend at OpenAI’s headquarters in San Francisco. In a surprise move Friday, the company’s board of directors fired co-founder and CEO Sam Altman, which set off an institutional crisis that has seen senior staff resign in protest with nearly 700 rank-and-file employees threatening to do the same. Now the board is facing calls for its own resignation, even after Microsoft had already swooped in to hire Altman’s cohort away for its own AI projects. Here’s everything you need to know about the situation to hold your own at Thanksgiving on Thursday.

How it started

Thursday, November 16

This saga began forever ago by internet standards, or last Thursday in the common parlance. Per a tweet from former-company president Greg Brockman, that was when OpenAI’s head researcher and board member, Ilya Sutskever, contacted Altman to set up a meeting the following day at noon. In that same tweet chain (posted Friday night), Brockman accused the company of informing the first interim-CEO, OpenAI CTO Mira Murati, of the upcoming firings at that time as well:

- Last night, Sam got a text from Ilya asking to talk at noon Friday. Sam joined a Google Meet and the whole board, except Greg, was there. Ilya told Sam he was being fired and that the news was going out very soon.

- At 12:19PM, Greg got a text from Ilya asking for a quick call. At 12:23PM, Ilya sent a Google Meet link. Greg was told that he was being removed from the board (but was vital to the company and would retain his role) and that Sam had been fired. Around the same time, OpenAI published a blog post.

- As far as we know, the management team was made aware of this shortly after, other than Mira who found out the night prior.

Friday, November 17

Everything kicked off at that Friday noon meeting. Brockman was informed that he would be demoted — removed from the board but remain president of the company, reporting to Murati once she’s installed. Barely ten minutes later, Brockman alleges, Altman was informed of his termination as the public announcement was published. Sutskever subsequently sent a company-wide email stating that “Change can be scary,” per The Information.

Later that afternoon, the OpenAI board along with new CEO Murati addressed a “shocked” workforce in an all-hands meeting. During that meeting, Sutskever reportedly told employees the moves will ultimately “make us feel closer."

At this point, Microsoft, which just dropped a cool $10 billion into OpenAI’s coffers in January as part of a massive, multi-year investment deal with the company weighed in on the day’s events. CEO Satya Nadella released the following statement:

As you saw at Microsoft Ignite this week, we’re continuing to rapidly innovate for this era of AI, with over 100 announcements across the full tech stack from AI systems, models and tools in Azure, to Copilot. Most importantly, we’re committed to delivering all of this to our customers while building for the future. We have a long-term agreement with OpenAI with full access to everything we need to deliver on our innovation agenda and an exciting product roadmap; and remain committed to our partnership, and to Mira and the team. Together, we will continue to deliver the meaningful benefits of this technology to the world.

By Friday evening, things really began to spiral. Brockman announced via Twitter that he quit in protest. Director of research Jakub Pachocki and head of preparedness Aleksander Madry announced that they too were resigning in solidarity.

How it’s going

Saturday/Sunday, November 18/19

On Saturday, November 18, the backtracking begins. Altman’s Friday termination notice states that, “Mr. Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities. The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.”

The following morning, OpenAI COO Brad Lightcap wrote in internal communications obtained by Axios that the decision “took [the management team] by surprise” and that management had been in conversation “with the board to try to better understand the reasons and process behind their decision.”

“We can say definitively that the board’s decision was not made in response to malfeasance or anything related to our financial, business, safety, or security/privacy practices,” Lightcap wrote. “This was a breakdown in communication between Sam and the board … We still share your concerns about how the process has been handled, are working to resolve the situation, and will provide updates as we’re able.”

A report from The Information midmorning Saturday revealed that OpenAI’s prospective share sale being led by Thrive Capital, valued at $86 billion, is in jeopardy following Altman’s firing. Per three unnamed sources within the company, even if the sale does go through, it will likely be at a lower valuation. The price of OpenAI shares has tripled since the start of the year, and quadrupled since 2021, so current and former employees, many of whom were offered stock as hiring incentives, were in line for a big payout. A payout might not be coming anymore.

On Saturday afternoon, Altman announced on Twitter that he would be forming a new AI startup with Brockman’s assistance, potentially doing something with AI chips to counter NVIDIA’s dominance in the sector. At this point OpenAI’s many investors, rightly concerned that their money was about to go up in generative smoke, began pressuring the board of directors to reinstate Altman and Brockman.

Microsoft’s Satya Nadella reportedly led that charge. Bloomberg’s sources say Nadella was “furious” over the decision to oust Altman — especially having been given just “a few minutes” of notice before the public announcement was made — even going so far as to recruit Altman and his cohort for their own AI efforts.

Microsoft also has leverage in the form of its investment, much of which is in the form of cloud compute credits (which the GPT platform needs to operate) rather than hard currency. Denying those credits to OpenAI would effectively hobble the startup’s operations.

Interim-CEO Mira Murati’s 48-hour tenure at the head of OpenAI came to an end on Sunday when the board named Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear as the new interim-CEO. According to Bloomberg reporter Ashley Vance, Murati had planned to hire Altman and Brockman back in a move designed to force the board of directors into action. Instead, the board “went into total silence” and “found their own CEO Emmett Shear.” Altman spent Sunday at OpenAI HQ, posting an image of himself holding up a green “Guest” badge.

“First and last time i ever wear one of these,” he wrote.

Monday, November 20

On Monday morning, an open letter from more than 500 OpenAI employees circulated online. The group threatened to quit and join the new Microsoft subsidiary unless the board itself resigns and brings back Altman and Brockman (and presumably the other two as well). The number of signatories has since grown to nearly 700.

It doesn’t look like that will be happening, however — despite Sutskever’s early morning mea culpa. The board has already missed its deadline to respond to the open letter, Microsoft has already hired away both Altman and Brockman and Shear has already been named interim-CEO.

Shear stepped down as CEO of Twitch in March, where he led the company for more than 16 years and has been working as a partner at Y Combinator for the past seven months. Amazon acquired the live video streaming app in 2014 for just under $1 billion.

“I took this job because I believe that OpenAI is one of the most important companies currently in existence. When the board shared the situation and asked me to take the role, I did not make the decision lightly,” Shear told OpenAI employees Monday.

“Ultimately I felt that I had a duty to help if I could,” he added.

Shear was quick to point out that Altman’s termination was “handled very badly, which has seriously damaged our trust.” As such he announced the company will hire an independent investigator to report on the run-up to Friday’s SNAFU.

“The board did *not* remove Sam over any specific disagreement on safety, their reasoning was completely different from that,” Shear continued. “I’m not crazy enough to take this job without board support for commercializing our awesome models.”

Following his departure to Microsoft on Monday, Altman posted, “the OpenAI leadership team, particularly mira brad and jason but really all of them, have been doing an incredible job through this that will be in the history books.”

“Incredibly proud of them,” he wrote.

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Cruise co-founder resigns following CEO exit

Cruise, the self-driving car company owned by General Motors, confirmed to Reuters that its co-founder and chief product officer Daniel Kan has resigned. Kan’s departure comes just a day after the company’s CEO Kyle Vogt announced his resignation on X after a 10-year tenure. Kan is said to have announced his resignation over Slack, however, the reasoning for his departure has not been made clear by the company.

The company’s executive reshuffling follows a public relations nightmare that started last month when a Cruise robotaxi hit a pedestrian in San Francisco and pinned them under the vehicle. The parent company, GM, is still conducting a safety probe on the accident and both autonomous and manual vehicle operations at Cruise remain suspended. The company’s public image has been reeling from the accident ever since, and about 950 robotaxis had to be recalled by GM. The California DMV suspended Cruises’ driverless permits shortly after, and that ruling has remained in place.

In a recent tweet, Cruise said that the company is focused on taking steps “to rebuild public trust.” Things have yet to look up for the company, especially after an expose by The Intercept revealed that the company knew its self-driving cars have trouble recognizing children and large holes in the roads. Furthermore, the former CEO said that the company would have to lay off an undisclosed number of employees and staff members in a memo.

Cruise has not made any statements about finding replacements for either its CEO or chief product officer as of yet. The New York Times reports that “instead of installing a new chief executive” General Motors has appointed two new members to the company board and Mo Elshenawy, Cruise’s executive vice president of engineering, will take up the role of President.

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