In Reversal, Musk’s Foundation Goes for the Money

Tesla and Space X founder Elon Musk became the conscience of the AI industry when he warned about its potential. Now, however, his nonprofit foundation OpenAI announced plans to expand into the for-profit realm. OpenAI was founded with $1 billion endowment from Elon Musk, no longer on the board, Sam Altman (CEO) and others in tech like Reid Hoffman, Peter Thiel, Amazon Web Services.

Meanwhile, Microsoft announced plans to start an AI business school to not only teach how to best use new AI-based technologies and profit from them, but also how to operate in an ethical way.

According to a Bloomberg story, OpenAI is starting a for-profit division, “to attract venture capital and reward employees with stock options.” Competition for AI employees has become fierce as companies offer astronomical salaries.

“We’ll need to invest billions of dollars in upcoming years into large-scale cloud compute, attracting and retaining talented people, and building AI supercomputers,” OpenAI said in a blog post Monday.

A Microsoft executive explained its new education venture on the company blog:

“There is a gap between what people want to do and the reality of what is going on in their organizations today, and the reality of whether their organization is ready,” said Mitra Azizirad, corporate vice president for AI marketing at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington. “Developing a strategy for AI extends beyond the business issues,” she explained. “It goes all the way to the leadership, behaviors and capabilities required to instill an AI-ready culture in your organization.”

According to the blog, the Microsoft effort “complements other AI learning initiatives across Microsoft, including the developer-focused AI School and the Microsoft Professional Program for Artificial Intelligence, which provides job-ready skills and real-world experience to engineers and others looking to improve their skills in AI and data science.”

The OpenAI shift signals a struggle to attract people who driven by its mission, rather than salaries and perks, according to an analysis by Business Insider.