OpenAI Reveals Elon Musk’s Emails Urging Startup to Secure $1 Billion Funding and Rely on Tesla’s Financial Support

OpenAI issued a public response on Tuesday to a lawsuit filed by co-founder Elon Musk, pointing out what they perceive as hypocrisy on his part as both a billionaire and an early supporter of the company.

In their response, OpenAI shared past emails from Musk where he advised the emerging startup to seek at least $1 billion in funding and agreed to a strategy of becoming less transparent over time, even suggesting not sharing the company’s scientific advancements with the public.

These revealed communications present a stark contrast to Musk’s recent stance, as demonstrated by his lawsuit against OpenAI, CEO Sam Altman, and President Greg Brockman, alleging breach of contract and unfair competition.

In the lawsuit, Musk’s legal team claims that OpenAI’s GPT-4 AI model operates under strict secrecy, known only to OpenAI and, purportedly, Microsoft, arguing that this secrecy is driven by commercial motives rather than safety concerns. OpenAI responded, stating their intention to move for the dismissal of all claims made by Musk.

black Tesla
He suggested Tesla as a potential financial backbone for OpenAI’s growth. (Credits: Unsplash)

During a November appearance at The New York Times’s DealBook conference, Musk criticized OpenAI, suggesting it had strayed from its original mission. He remarked that the organization had shifted from an open-source foundation to a closed-source, multibillion-dollar corporation driven by profit.

Contrary to this public criticism, past emails reproduced by OpenAI from December 2018 show Musk advising against a lean approach to fundraising. He emphasized the necessity for OpenAI to secure significant resources, indicating that without substantial investment, the company stood no chance of competing with Google’s DeepMind.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk at an event.
Past emails reveal Musk’s evolving views on OpenAI’s funding strategies and transparency. (Credits: Investopedia)

Musk, now the CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, and owner of X Corp., as well as the founder of Neuralink, a potential rival to OpenAI branded as xAI, had reportedly sought significant control over OpenAI during his involvement with the organization. OpenAI claimed that Musk had pursued majority equity, board control, and even the CEO position within the company. Musk’s enterprises have reportedly attracted talent away from OpenAI, with his startup xAI positioning its initial product, Grok, as a competitor to OpenAI’s ChatGPT software.

Additionally, in emails from January 2018 shared by OpenAI, Musk endorsed the idea of relying on Tesla as a financial backbone for the startup, given Tesla’s substantial cash reserves at the time. It’s worth noting that CNBC has not independently verified the authenticity of the emails referenced in OpenAI’s response, some of which were partially redacted.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
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