OpenAI’s mess exposes the dangers of vendor lock-in for startups

If you looked at OpenAI before Friday afternoon, it had everything a business buyer (and, for that matter, an investor) could want in a startup: an absolutely killer product in ChatGPT, a rock star CEO, and huge potential future income.

It seemed as stable as any startup could be – until it wasn’t. While the situation remains fluid, it appears CEO Sam Altman is ready to drive his tour bus to Microsoft, taking co-founder Greg Brockman and most of his employees with him.

When the shit hit fans on Friday, all the dangers of vendor lock-in became apparent, and when the drama spread over the weekend, startups that had invested heavily in OpenAI technology had to ask how this was going to go. .

Supplier dependency has been a problem for as long as there have been buyer companies. While there are many large language models on the market from various vendors, OpenAI’s GPT 3.5 and GPT 4 seem to stand out from the rest.

Many companies I spoke with pointed out that while OpenAI appeared to be the market leader (with the help of Microsoft’s significant investment in the company), the general feeling was that the current wave of A.I. was still very early and it was profitable. be flexible in choosing a model.

Companies that have chosen a flexible approach rather than relying on a single AI model provider must be feeling pretty good today. If there’s a lesson to be learned from all of this, even as the drama continues to unfold in real time, it’s that it’s never a good idea to go to just one vendor.

The founders proceed with caution

Founders who put all their eggs in the OpenAI basket suddenly find themselves in a very uncomfortable situation, as uncertainty around OpenAI continues to swirl. One startup founder, who chose to speak on the background in order to be candid, says his company was about to sign a big deal with OpenAI, and that situation left him in the dark.

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