OpenAI reportedly trying to poach Google AI talent with $10M pay packages as race heats up

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By Dan Sears

Microsoft-backed OpenAI is reportedly offering pay packages worth up to $10 million in an effort to lure top artificial intelligence staffers away from its chief rival Google.

The ChatGPT creator’s recruiting team has been pitching some of Google’s best AI talent ahead of a planned employee share sale that will boost OpenAI’s valuation above $80 billion, according to a report.

The employees are being told that they can lock in packages at the firm’s current valuation of approximately $27 billion and see a surge in value when the share sale closes.

The top deals could be worth between $5 million and $10 million, The Information reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

So far, Google “does not appear to be matching the offers,” one source told the outlet.

OpenAI’s purported recruiting drive comes amid CEO Sam Altman’s push for additional financial backing from top investor Microsoft as the company looks to build “superintelligent” tech tools that would be as smart as humans.

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The runaway success of ChatGPT since its launch roughly one year ago has sparked an arms race in the tech industry – with Microsoft, Google, Elon Musk’s xAI and other firms scrambling to control the market.

OpenAI is best known as the creator of ChatGPT.

ChatGPT is in direct competition with Google’s chatbot, Bard, and xAI’s version, Grok, which recently debuted for some X users.

As part of its recruiting blitz, OpenAI has touted its access to powerful and scarce computing chips required to power advanced AI systems, the report added. Additionally, the company has doled out raises to some of its junior-level AI staffers.

Once it closes, the share sale will be OpenAI’s second of the year. The previous round closed last April.

OpenAI and Google did not immediately return requests for comment.

Earlier this month, OpenAI boss Sam Altman revealed that ChatGPT has surpassed 100 million active weekly users. Altman also told employees in October that OpenAI was on track for $1.3 billion in annualized revenue, The Information reported at the time.

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Elsewhere, Google has also stepped up its AI efforts.

Last week, Reuters reported that Google was in talks to pour “hundreds of millions of dollars” into Character.AI.

Sam Altman
Sam Altman is CEO of OpenAI.
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The firm, which was founded by former Google employees, has a built a chatbot that allows users to “talk” to celebrities and other well-known figures.

While chatbots have gained popularity over the last year due to their humanlike responses to user prompts, they remain unreliable and probe to regurgitating misinformation in bizarre episodes known as “hallucinations.”

Additionally, some critics say advancements in AI will allow Google to further entrench their control over online search and other parts of the internet.

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