November 20, 2023
👋 Good Monday afternoon. Today's PM — edited by Noah Bressner — is 595 words, a 2-min. read. Thanks to Sheryl Miller for the copy edit.
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1 big thing: Tech's weekend of chaos
It's been a chaotic few days for high-profile tech companies — and their influential leaders — working to shape the future, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick writes.
- Why it matters: Three major stories — about OpenAI, X and Cruise — are a reminder that the people and companies trying to design the future are imperfect, that leadership is important, and that nobody's immune to potentially catastrophic unforced errors.
Driving the news: Coming in at a 9.6 on the Wow-o-Meter: generative AI darling OpenAI's ongoing self-destruction, which began Friday with the board's sudden and largely unexplained removal of CEO Sam Altman.
- A vast majority of OpenAI workers signed a stunning open letter this morning threatening to quit and go work at Microsoft — where Altman now works — unless the board resigns and the former CEO is reinstated.
- "We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgement and care for our mission and employees," reads the letter.
The intrigue: OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, who led the board's anti-Altman rebellion, now says he "deeply regrets" his actions, Axios' Scott Rosenberg writes.
- Sutskever even signed the open letter, essentially calling for his own resignation.
🔎 Zoom in: The Altman drama — so unexpected and irresistible as a story — somewhat overshadowed two other major stories in tech...
- The ongoing exodus of major advertisers at X (formerly Twitter) following owner Elon Musk's embrace of antisemitic messages. Apple, IBM, Disney, Comcast/NBCUniversal, Paramount and more have either pulled or "paused" advertising.
- Kyle Vogt, co-founder and CEO of GM-owned robotaxi startup Cruise, resigned yesterday amid a disastrous few weeks. The company recently paused operations after losing permission to operate in San Francisco after an incident that left a pedestrian badly wounded.
2. 🗳️ 2024 debate road map
The three presidential debates next year will be held in Texas, Virginia and Utah, Axios' Erin Doherty writes.
- The sole vice presidential debate is set to take place at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.
By the numbers: Missouri has hosted six presidential and vice presidential debates, the most of any state (charted above).
- 22 states and D.C. have hosted at least one debate since 1960.
State of play: Former President Trump — who has skipped all three Republican primary debates so far — has said that he wants to debate President Biden.
- The Biden campaign hasn't said whether he plans to participate in the debates.
3. Catch me up
- 🔎 Sheryl Sandberg, the former Meta COO, writes in an op-ed today: "No matter which flag you are flying ... there is one opinion that everyone can agree on: Rape should never be used as an act of war." Keep reading ... Watch her video.
- 🌡️ The planet likely briefly exceeded a key warming threshold for the first time since at least the beginning of instrument records, Axios' Andrew Freedman writes.
- 🦠 Americans can order more free COVID tests from the government starting today, Axios' Kelly Tyko writes.
4. 🦃 Biden pardons big birds
Liberty and Bell — two 42-pound turkeys — were pardoned today by President Biden and spared from the Thanksgiving table.
- They're squarely in the middle of the flock of turkeys pardoned over the last 40 years (charted above).
The turkeys traveled from Minnesota in a Cadillac Escalade and stayed overnight at a suite in the Willard Intercontinental near the White House.
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