Tesla and SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk reacts during an in-conversation event with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London, Britain, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023.
Kirsty Wigglesworth | Reuters
Speaking at the 2023 DealBook Summit in New York on Wednesday, Elon Musk, the owner of social media site X (formerly Twitter), scoffed at advertisers threatening to leave the platform because of antisemitic posts he amplified there.
“If somebody’s gonna try to blackmail me with advertising? Blackmail me with money? Go f—yourself.” He added, “Don’t advertise.”
He also implied that fans of his, and of X, would boycott those advertisers in kind. He specifically took aim at Disney.
“The whole world will know that those advertisers killed the company and we will document it in great detail,” Musk threatened.
He also told interviewer Andrew Ross Sorkin, “I have no problem being hated. Hate away.”
In recent weeks, Musk has promoted and sometimes verbally endorsed what the White House called “antisemitic and racist hate” on X, formerly Twitter, the social media platform he owns and runs as CTO.
He called those tweets, “one of the most foolish if not the most foolish thing I’ve ever done on the platform.”
“I’m sorry for that tweet or post,” he said. He added, “I tried my best to clarify, six ways to Sunday, but you know at least I think over time it will be obvious that in fact, far from being antisemitic, I am in fact philosemitic.”
His inflammatory posts on the social media platform led large advertisers, including Disney, Apple, and many others, to suspend campaigns there, and drove some famous users away from the platform, including Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.
Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has denied that he is antisemitic, and said that on X, “Clear calls for extreme violence are against our terms of service and will result in suspension.”
He also traveled to Israel this week, where he met and spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. When Netanyahu said he wanted to “deradicalize” and “rebuild” Gaza, Musk offered to help. Musk told Sorkin on stage that his visit to Israel was planned before his tweets, and were not part of an “apology tour.” Previously, Musk had said he wanted to bring SpaceX satellite communications service to Israel and humanitarian organizations in Gaza.
Musk’s personal account on X currently displays a follower count of more than 164 million — though tech blog Mashable reported in August that a majority of Musk’s listed followers appeared to be inauthentic or inactive accounts.
Earlier on Wednesday, the UAW launched campaigns aimed at Tesla and 12 other automakers in the U.S. Sorkin asked Musk what that means for his EV business.
Musk espoused negative general views about unions and said they create a “lords and peasants” atmosphere at companies, and “naturally try to create negativity,” pitting workers against management.
He said, “Many people at Tesla have come up, gone from workign on the line to being in senior management and there is no lords and peasants — everyone eats at the same table.”
He also added, “If Tesla gets unionized, it will be because we deserve it and we failed in some way.”
At one point, Sorkin asked, “Do you feel like anybody has leverage over you?”
Musk replied, “If we make bad products that people don’t want to use, the users will vote with their resources and use something else. My companies are overseen by regulators. SpaceX, Starlink, Tesla – are overseen by cumulatively by…a few hundred regulators because we’re in 55 countries.”
Later, he noted that he complies with nearly all the regulations levied upon his companies, but “once in awhile” he disagrees with a regulation and would object to it and disobey. “I’m incredibly rule-following,” he claimed.
Sorkin asked, “How do you think about the leverage that the Chinese have over you?” alluding to Tesla’s factory there and the company’s reliance on Chinese consumers for a percentage of its sales. Sorkin added, “Is it hypocritical for you to be doing business in China, or other countries, as it relates to X and other things that don’t follow this free speech path that you have espoused?”
The CEO replied, “The best that the platform can do is adhere to the laws of any given country. Do you think there’s something more we can do than that?”
He later added that he believes the Chinese electric car companies are extremely competitive, and said that many people believe the top ten EV companies in the world will be Tesla and nine Chinese makers.
On OpenAI and its recent boardroom struggles, Musk said he had talked to a lot of people but had not found out what precisely led to the recent firing and then re-hiring of CEO Sam Altman. He also said he has “mixed feelings” about Altman personally, hinting that he feels like the OpenAI CEO has too much power. “The ring of power can corrupt.”
When it was founded, OpenAI’s original board included both Altman and Musk, but Musk left in 2018 after poaching a star engineer from the company to run Autopilot software engineering at Tesla.
Musk also said that he’s worried about the danger of AI harming humanity, and that he was “having trouble sleeping at night” because of it.
This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.
OpenAI says in memo that Musk’s claims ‘stem from Elon’s regrets’ that he’s not part of company
Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, at the Hope Global Forums annual meeting in Atlanta on Dec. 11, 2023.
Dustin Chambers | Bloomberg | Getty Images
“We believe the claims in this suit may stem from Elon’s regrets about not being involved with the company today,” wrote OpenAI Chief Strategy Officer Jason Kwon in an internal memo on Friday that was viewed by CNBC. “It is deeply disappointing to see Elon take this action against a company he helped start, especially given his close collaboration with some of you who are still here working towards the mission.”
Musk co-founded OpenAI in 2015 and stepped down from its board in 2018, four years after saying that AI is “potentially more dangerous than nukes.”
Musk is now suing Microsoft–backed OpenAI and CEO Sam Altman, among others, alleging they abandoned the company’s founding mission to develop artificial intelligence “for the benefit of humanity broadly.”
Since releasing the ChatGPT chatbot to the public in late 2022, OpenAI has become one of the hottest startups on the planet, with a valuation reportedly over $80 billion. The company’s convoluted “capped-profit” structure resulted in Altman being briefly ousted by the board late last year, before an uproar among investors and employees led to his quick reinstatement.
Musk has long wanted recognition for his central role in the creation of OpenAI, and he spent large chunks of the lawsuit telling his version of events. His lawyers said in the suit that Musk was approached in 2015 by Altman and OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman and agreed to form a nonprofit lab that would develop artificial general intelligence, or AGI, outside of the corporate sphere.
Musk’s attorneys said their client contributed over $15 million to OpenAI in 2016, which was “more than any other donor” and helped the startup build a team of “top talent.” The next year, Musk gave nearly $20 million to OpenAI, which the attorneys reiterated was more than other backers. In total, Musk invested over $44 million into OpenAI from 2016 through September 2020, according to the suit.
Additionally, Musk leased OpenAI’s initial office space “and paid the monthly rental expenses,” the suit said. He was also “present for important company milestones.”
Kwon didn’t dispute Musk’s central role in the early days of OpenAI, but he added some other details. For example, Kwon wrote that Musk at one point indicated he needed “full initial control and majority equity” and later suggested that OpenAI merge with Tesla.
“We did not think either approach was right for the mission,” Kwon wrote.
In the memo, Altman called Musk a hero of his and said the he misses the old version of his co-founder. But he said the company’s mission continues.
While it’s the first time the dispute between the two sides has resulted in a fiery lawsuit, they’ve been at odds for a while.
Before he split with OpenAI, Tesla hired co-founder Andrej Karpathy as senior director of AI. Karpathy returned to OpenAI in 2023. And Musk has been notably vocal in his opposition to OpenAI and its Microsoft partnership in recent years, stating publicly in November that OpenAI had deviated from its original mission.
“OpenAI should be renamed ‘super closed source for maximum profit AI,’ because this is what it actually is,” Musk said onstage at The New York Times’ DealBook conference. Regarding OpenAI’s transformation from an “open source foundation” to a multibillion-dollar for-profit company, Musk said, “I don’t know, is this legal?”
Kwon insisted on Friday that OpenAI is independent and continues to work “to ensure AGI benefits all of humanity.”
Musk’s lawyers didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
— CNBC’s Lora Kolodny and Hayden Field contributed to this report
Waymo approved by regulator to expand robotaxi service in Los Angeles, San Francisco Peninsula
Passengers ride in an electric Waymo full self-driving technology in Santa Monica
Allen J. Schaben | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images
Alphabet’s Waymo robotaxi unit won approval from the California Public Utilities Commission to expand service to parts of Los Angeles and the Bay Area, according to a notice posted to the regulator’s website on Friday.
“Waymo may begin fared driverless passenger service operations in the specified areas of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Peninsula, effective today,” the release said.
In mid-February, Waymo initiated a voluntary recall filing notice with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, saying it would fix software issues. The recall followed two previously undisclosed incidents that occurred in Phoenix on Dec. 11, in which unmanned Waymo vehicles crashed into the same towed pickup truck within minutes of each other.
The collisions added to existing concerns about autonomous vehicle use in California. Competing taxi and transit service providers and labor activists are worried about the loss of drivers’ jobs, while safety advocates wrote letters to regulators and politicians asking them to thwart Waymo’s expansion in the state.
The CPUC in February had suspended Waymo’s expansion efforts for up to 120 days to provide for added review time.
In its letter on Friday, the regulator said it was approving the new proposal, due in part to “Waymo’s updated Passenger Safety Plan (PSP), submitted in connection with its expanded operational design domain (ODD) for deployment,” which was also approved by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
“We’re grateful to the CPUC for this vote of confidence in our operations, which paves the way for the deployment of our commercial Waymo One service in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Peninsula,” a Waymo spokesperson said in a statement.
Waymo’s progress in California comes after General Motors-owned Cruise and Apple bowed out of the autonomous vehicle business in California, while Elon Musk’s Tesla has yet to develop an autonomous vehicle that can safely operate without a human driver at the controls.
California regulators halted operations of self-driving Cruise robotaxis in October after a series of incidents, including one that resulted in a robotaxi rolling over a pedestrian who had first been hit by a human-driven car and was then pulled forward about 20 feet by the Cruise vehicle.
Waymo’s new approvals allow the company’s robotaxis to operate close to Tesla’s Palo Alto engineering headquarters in San Mateo County.
The latest notice applies to the commercial ride-sharing service Waymo One. The company has deployed testing vehicles in those areas for several years.
Super Micro joining S&P 500 after stock price soars more than 20-fold in two years
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Super Micro Computer is joining the S&P 500 following a historic rally in the stock that has pushed the company’s market cap past $50 billion.
The shares, up more than 20-fold in the past two years and over 200% just since the start of 2024, climbed another 8% in extended trading on Friday.
Stocks added to the benchmark index often rise in value because funds that track the S&P 500 will add it to their portfolios. The median market cap for companies in the S&P 500 is $33.7 billion.
Super Micro has been one of the main beneficiaries of the artificial intelligence boom sweeping the technology industry. The company makes servers and other computer infrastructure, and it’s one of the primary vendors for building out Nvidia-based “clusters” of servers for training and deploying AI models.
In the quarter that ended December, Super Micro’s revenue more than doubled to $3.66 billion. Analysts expect sales in the current quarter to more than triple.
“We see Nvidia’s results as a positive data point for SMCI which is one of the leading partners that designs and manufactures servers to wrap around the GPUs and customizes racks to the specific needs of a customer,” Bank of America analyst Ruplu Bhattacharya wrote in a note last month. He has a buy rating on the stock.
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