Lawsuits and OpenAI's New Search Product

Mike Leslie
May 03, 2024

While lawsuits mount against OpenAI, the company is quietly working on a Microsoft Bing-enhanced search product that will intensify its competition with Google.

Inputs that matter: In a recent podcast with Lex Fridman, OpenAI chief Sam Altman said, "The intersection of LLMs plus search, I don't think anyone has cracked the code yet. I would love to do that. I think that would be cool."

  • Moreover, he said that OpenAI does not want to build another Google Search. "I find that (Google Search) boring. I mean, if the question is if we can build a better search engine than Google or whatever, then sure, we should."
  • "Google shows you ten blue links, 13 ads, and then ten blue links, and that's one way to find information. But the thing that's exciting to me is not that we can build a better copy of Google Search, but that maybe there's just a better way to help people find, act on, and synthesize information," Altman concluded.
  • The rumor that OpenAI is launching a competing search engine was published on February 14.
  • The next day, February 15, Google announced the launch of Gemini 1.5, following the announcement of Gemini Advanced on February 8.

The opportunity: OpenAI's Google Search alternative is expected to be released before Google I/O, scheduled for May 14, 2024.

  • Search Engine Journal asks, "If OpenAI is challenging Google Search, what exactly is left for OpenAI to do that Microsoft isn't already doing with Bing Chat?"
  • ChatGPT is the fastest-growing app of all time, currently with about 180 million users, and has achieved in two months what took years for Facebook and Twitter.
  • Yet despite that head start, Google's lead is a steep hill for OpenAI to climb.
  • Google has approximately 3 to 4 billion users worldwide, dwarfing OpenAI's 180 million users.

Zoom in: Multiple signals validate the rumors of OpenAI launching its search engine.

  • The first is that is showing in the log files for some servers, and also, yesterday, there were more business-oriented rumors of OpenAI launching a search engine on May 9.
  • OpenAI's decision to launch a search app follows Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's statement a year ago, saying that he would "make Google dance" by integrating OpenAI's GPT models into Microsoft's Bing search engine.
  • A powerful new chatbot that showed up briefly on a testing site this week, stirring buzz among AI experts and enthusiasts, is likely from OpenAI.
  • On Wednesday at Harvard University, Altman told an audience that the mystery bot is not GPT-4.5, which many see as the likely next major update to GPT-4.

Between the lines: Eight prominent U.S. newspapers owned by investment giant Alden Global Capital are suing OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement in a complaint filed Tuesday in the Southern District of New York.

  • On top of a similar case filed by the New York Times against both companies, the new suits add heft to publishers' claims.
  • Until now, the Times was the only major newspaper that had taken legal action against AI firms for copyright infringement.
  • Many other news publishers, including the Financial Times, the Associated Press, and Axel Springer, have instead opted to strike paid deals with AI companies for millions of dollars annually, undermining the Times' argument that it should be compensated billions of dollars in damages.

Follow the money: Both Google and Microsoft are doing well on Wall Street. Whether the rumor of OpenAI and Microsoft launching a new search product is true, expect the market to react in one way or another as we approach May 14.

  • Microsoft Corp [NASDAQ: MSFT] is trading slightly below its all-time high from March 21, 2024.
  • Alphabet Inc [NASDAQ: GOOG] is trading near its all-time high.

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