Ramin Talaie/Getty Images and Kimberly White/Getty Images for GLAAD
- OpenAI CEO Sam Altman called Google a “lethargic search monopoly” in an interview on Tuesday.
- Altman said he sees tremendous potential for his company’s AI technology to change the way people find information online.
- Google has said it’s own ChatGPT rival, Bard, will be coming to the public in a matter of weeks.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman took a subtle dig at Google, which he called a “lethargic search monopoly,” during an interview on Tuesday.
Altman said he sees tremendous upside to Microsoft’s decision to incorporate OpenAI’s technology into its search engine. Microsoft announced the integration of an AI language model into its “new Bing” search engine on Tuesday. It said the AI tool is “more powerful than ChatGPT.”
ChatGPT, which has generated headlines for its ability to do anything from write an essay to provide coding advice, is an AI chatbot that can answer questions in a clear, conversational manner.
“We’re going to discover what these new [search engine business] models can do, but if I were sitting on a lethargic search monopoly and had to think about a world where there was going to be a real challenge to the way that monetization of this works and new ad units, and maybe even a temporary downward pressure, I would not feel great about that,” Altman said in an interview with Ben Thompson in his newsletter Stratechery.
Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott told Stratechery he thinks the company is well positioned to sell the new technology to the masses, adding that the “search business that you have now is very different from the search business that we had twenty years ago,” when Google was just starting out.
“There’s so much value here, it’s inconceivable to me that we can’t figure out how to ring the cash register on it,” Altman said.
Though, the OpenAI CEO added it’s hard to say how Google will adapt to the technology.
A spokesperson for Google did not respond to a request for comment ahead of publication.
Google appears to be equally as concerned about maintaining its search dominance. Google’s search engine represented over 91% of the global search market in the past 12 months, while Bing accounted for about 3%, according to data from SimilarWeb.
The company is sounding the alarm on ChatGPT. In December, Google reportedly issued a “code red” over the chatbot. Since the latest version of ChatGPT was released on November 30, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and its parent company, Alphabet, has participated in several meetings around Google’s AI strategy in response to the threat the chatbot represents to the company’s search engine, The New York Times reported.
The company also called in Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to help address the issue, the Times reported in January. Last week, Gmail creator Paul Buchheit warned that Google’s search business was only one to two years away from “total disruption” due to AI chatbots like ChatGPT.
Most recently, Google announced its plans on Monday to unveil its ChatGPT rival, Bard. Pichai said Bard was open to “trusted testers” and would open to the public in the coming weeks. Though, the chatbot took an early stumble out of the gate. On Wednesday, Google shares slumped more than 8% after Bard made a factual error in its first demo video.