Google Might Just Have a Chance

Google is betting big on OpenAI’s leadership crisis to poach talent, speed up Gemini’s development, & one-up competition through investments.

Design by Nikhil Kumar

Several industries, including tech and finance, are closely observing OpenAI’s leadership crisis unfold. The situation has raised concern amongst these companies, whose AI roadmaps relied on OpenAI’s technology. Their worries stem from the perception that the startup’s board doesn’t seem aligned with the interests of its customers or shareholders.

However, the whole ecosystem seems to be missing one aspect, while the upheaval and drama has slowed down the development at OpenAI, Google is silently working towards its competing model Gemini. Not just that, it seems to be taking the battle to its competitors on many fronts, including talent acquisition and having an additional player in the game through hefty investment in startups like Anthropic.

The tech giant is looking to poach a few OpenAI researchers to further their cause—because they’re like hotcakes on the market that everyone’s looking at with hopeful eyes.

Google and OpenAI fiercely compete for AI talent due to a shortage of experts for LLM development. While OpenAI had tried to lure in Google researchers, offering significant pay packages over $10 million for some—Google has an edge with the availability of computing resources for more specialized servers for AI model development. Despite OpenAI’s plans, CEO Sam Altman himself believes that Google is poised to maintain this advantage into the next year, despite Microsoft’s server aid, 

The recent chaos has also resulted in a lot of enterprises looking outside of OpenAI at other avenues and this is the right time for competitors like Google to sweep into the conversation. Reportedly, more than 100 OpenAI customers turned to Anthropic, a competitor backed by Amazon and Google, following recent events. Additionally, others sought alternatives like Google Cloud and Cohere, signalling a shift away from OpenAI.

Smaller AI startups, which were using OpenAI for testing new tools, also expressed uncertainty amid these changes, mentioning their outreach to Anthropic for access. Platforms like EvaBot, which internally use OpenAI’s GPT-4 for data analysis to enhance sales prospecting calls, now intend to diversify its platform by exploring alternatives such as Google’s Bard and Meta Platforms’ Llama 2. 

As indicated by several reports Google is set to make the model available to their clients in the first quarter of 2024—as opposed to their promise of November this year. While that was seen as a move which would affect their position in the market adversely, this drama has given space to a lot of deliberation on the need for closed as well as open-source options.

While Google made a mess with Bard’s hurried release—which fell short of expectations, it is likely taking extra precautions to ensure that Gemini meets the high expectations set for it. Moreover, if it can pull it off, it will stand a chance to carve out a space for itself.

Looking Far & Beyond 

Moreover, Google is looking beyond just enhancing enterprise software sales with Gemini. It aims to empower YouTube creators with custom video backgrounds and bolster Bard and Google Assistant. Different versions of Gemini are in the works, each tailored for specific tasks based on complexity. 

Advertising stands as another vital application for Gemini, proposed to automate ad campaign generation. This spans from static images to potential expansion into audio and video ads. Gemini boasts a longer memory than prior Google models, potentially allowing advertisers to assess campaign performance over time.

According to people familiar with the project, outside developers have experimented with scaled-down versions of the model, gauged by their parameter count or computational complexity. However, the company is currently fine-tuning the primary and largest version of Gemini. However, they need to ensure that the primary Gemini model matches or surpasses OpenAI’s GPT-4 model.

And to enable this tall order Google has had to bring its Google Brain unit and DeepMind teams together.  The team has also had support from one of Google’s co-founders, Sergey Brin—who has reengaged with the company and is actively collaborating with the Gemini developers at Google’s Mountain View headquarters. 

While not holding a formal decision-making role, Brin has dedicated four to five days a week to working closely with the model’s developers. In recent weeks, he has provided valuable criticism, and feedback, and played a pivotal role in orchestrating collaboration among various teams involved in the project.

Shyam Nandan Upadhyay
Shyam is a tech journalist with expertise in policy and politics, and exhibits a fervent interest in scrutinising the convergence of AI and analytics in society. In his leisure time, he indulges in anime binges and mountain hikes.

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