OpenAI Discloses Musk’s Proposal: Merger with Tesla or Full Control Sought


Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, purportedly sought to either merge the AI research company OpenAI with Tesla or gain full control over the organization.

According to a blog post from OpenAI, released in response to Musk’s lawsuit against the company, email communications from 2015 to 2018 were disclosed, capturing Musk’s involvement during that period. In a 2017 email, as OpenAI was contemplating a shift to a for-profit model for increased funding, Musk allegedly insisted on obtaining majority equity, control of the board of directors, and the CEO position. However, OpenAI, adhering to its mission, resisted ceding such extensive control to one individual.

The blog post detailed Musk’s departure from OpenAI, citing his determination to establish a viable competitor to Google/DeepMind. Musk expressed support for OpenAI finding its own path, but discussions about merging with Tesla or giving Musk full control did not progress as desired. In 2018, Musk suggested the possibility of OpenAI becoming affiliated with Tesla for funding. He forwarded an email stating, “Tesla is the only path that could even hope to hold a candle to Google.”

Despite Musk’s proposals, the merger or acquisition attempts were unsuccessful, leading to Musk’s departure from the company. The blog post referenced Musk’s 2018 email, where he asserted a low probability of OpenAI becoming relevant to DeepMind/Google without significant changes in execution and resources.

In March 2024, Musk filed a lawsuit against OpenAI, accusing the company of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and unfair competition. The lawsuit contends that OpenAI has become a “closed-source de facto subsidiary” of Microsoft after receiving a $13 billion investment from the tech giant.

OpenAI refutes these allegations, asserting that Musk was aware that the “Open” in its name did not obligate the organization to open-source all its AI technology. The company expressed regret that the situation has escalated to litigation with someone they once “deeply admired.”

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