ChatGPT fever hits Marc Benioff’s former co-CEO at Salesforce as Bret Taylor jumps on the A.I. bandwagon

Former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor is looking to found his third startup, this time focusing on artificial intelligence.
Bret Taylor, once tipped to run Salesforce, is looking to jump on the ChatGPT bandwagon with his own startup focusing on artificial intelligence.
Nathan Laine—Bloomberg/Getty Images

California is in gold rush fever again, and Bret Taylor is going prospecting.

The former co-CEO of Salesforce, once tipped to replace cofounder Marc Benioff as head of the cloud software giant, instead is going into business for himself. Taylor has announced that he and a partner will launch a company to employ artificial intelligence, the latest craze sweeping Silicon Valley, to “solve some of the most important problems” facing business. 

“Rarely do you encounter a new technology so powerful that it feels inevitable that it will change the course of every industry,” he said in a LinkedIn post on Wednesday. “I have that same sense of excitement and inevitability about modern A.I., especially given recent advances in large language models.” 

Ever since OpenAI’s ChatGPT bot became the fastest growing consumer app in history since launching in late November, society has been grappling with the vast implications of intuitive machine intelligence at the touch of a button

No emerging tech trend has grabbed more headlines as seemingly every knowledge-based profession could be on the chopping block, with OpenAI’s smash-hit product passing certification exams ranging from business to medicine to law. 

Cathie Wood’s research team at ARK Invest believes deep neural nets like ChatGPT, capable of mimicking human learning at exponential speeds, sit at the nexus of all major technological trends by revolutionizing productivity.

OpenAI’s advanced chatbot stole so much thunder from Google that CEO Sundar Pichai rushed out his rival, dubbed Bard, to avoid the perception that Google’s A.I. activities had fallen too far behind. 

Instead, the Google CEO suffered an embarrassing failure right off the bat that wiped $100 billion in market cap off the stock, when a promotional video showed Bard answering a query incorrectly. 

The Salesforce exec is enlisting help from a Google veteran

Taylor, whose recent departure from Salesforce shocked the industry, now wants in at the A.I. ground floor—and he’s recruiting an old friend from his early days at Google to help. 

After 18 years at the tech giant, most recently as vice president of its startup incubator Labs, Clay Bavor said he was leaving Google to join Taylor because they shared an “obsession” with recent advances in A.I.

“Bret and I have known each other since our early days at Google, and I have always admired his keen product sense and entrepreneurial spirit, his technical chops, and, above all, his character and integrity,” Bavor wrote on Wednesday.

It wouldn’t be the first company Taylor has founded, nor even his second. In 2007 he jumped on the social media bandwagon creating FriendFeed, before selling it in August 2009 to Facebook for a reported $50 million. (It was later shut down.) 

After serving as chief technology officer for Mark Zuckerberg’s company, Taylor left in 2012 to found a collaborative business software provider called Quip. Just five years later, Taylor convinced Salesforce to buy it off him for $750 million and he joined Benioff at the company, where Taylor rose to become co-CEO.

The Stanford grad plays to win if need be and doesn’t shy away from picking fights with powerful rivals, as evidenced by his brief stint chairing the board of Twitter

Taylor took on the then world’s richest man, Elon Musk, successfully forcing him in October to purchase the social media company for the eye-watering price of $44 billion just as technology firm valuations were plunging. 

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