Morning Reads

Morning Reads

Open Interest Changes



It's a classic tale in Silicon Valley, but the reverberations are still being heard across the investing world. Sam Altman's bid to return to OpenAI after being ousted late on Friday has failed, with the board not agreeing to the proposed terms of his reinstatement in a drama-filled weekend. Instead, Emmett Shear, the former CEO of Twitch and a prior partner to Sam Altman's startup accelerator Y Combinator, has been named interim CEO, while Altman - as well as OpenAI president and co-founder Greg Brockman - have found a new home at Microsoft (MSFT). More on that below, but expect more OpenAIers to also jump ship.

What happened? Since its founding in 2015, OpenAI's mission has been to develop cutting-edge AI technologies that would "benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return." Only a few years later, the non-profit formed a "capped profit" subsidiary, which eventually helped it attract the billions of dollars in investment that were needed to develop its large language models, ChatGPT, and other expensive generative AI offerings. Top talent was secured, equity was distributed to employees and it was now able to commercially license its technologies, but a schism was growing between Altman and the board skeptical of corporate expansion.

During talks over the weekend, reports suggested that Altman - with the backing of Microsoft - proposed a series of notable tech executives to lead a new board more aligned with their business vision. Names included Bret Taylor, former co-CEO of Salesforce (CRM), Airbnb (ABNB) CEO Brian Chesky, and Sheryl Sandberg, the former COO of Meta Platforms (META). However, if OpenAI's board was concerned about Altman's lack of "candor in communications" and "commitment to ethical AI development," the pitch only reinforced their position. Sources also say that Altman had recently devised plans for two new business endeavors, including a Jony Ive-led consumer hardware unit and a low-cost chip venture that would be used to train AI models, as well as publicized projects like the GPT App Store and crypto scheme Worldcoin.

As the negotiations failed, Microsoft (MSFT) stepped in to secure much of the talent behind its reported $13B investment in OpenAI, which some say gave it a 49% stake in a company that was recently valued at $86B. Microsoft then brought both Altman and Brockman into its ranks to lead a new advanced AI research team, a step seen as necessary to preserve generative AI secrets and keep the technology in-house. "We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote on X, as it looks to lead the AI revolution and cash in on its promise.

Thought bubble: Altman is sure to remain a force within AI markets and many are likening the situation to the 1985 ouster of Steve Jobs, who eventually returned and paved the way for Apple (AAPL) to become the most valuable company in the U.S. Microsoft intends to level up by integrating emerging AI technology within all of its products, such as its Bing search engine, Microsoft 365, GitHub coding tools and the Azure cloud. It remains to be seen what will be achieved, but what is clear for now is that incentives must be properly aligned, or they can create far-reaching governance and agency problems. Take the WSB survey. (37 comments)

A Musk problem?

Some longtime Tesla (TSLA) shareholders and supporters have criticized Elon Musk over his support of an antisemitic post on X, which led to companies pausing ads on the platform including Apple (AAPL) and IBM (IBM). Tesla shareholder and Future Fund Co-Founder Gary Black warned that Musk's comments could alienate part of the customer base, and "can hurt the company’s valuation over the longer term," while activist investor Nia Impact Capital's head Kristin Hull said the inaction of Tesla's board was concerning. The Elon Musk X distraction factor has been noted by Wall Street firms as well, including Wedbush and HSBC. Will the latest Musk drama have any lasting impact? (487 comments)

Going driverless

There are more stories from the C-suite as Kyle Vogt resigned as CEO of General Motors' (GM) Cruise. It comes less than a month after the self-driving company paused all operations of its autonomous vehicles following California's suspension of Cruise's driverless permits in the wake of a hit-and-run incident. Cruise also recalled 950 driverless cars across the U.S. earlier this month, soon after it temporarily halted production of its Origin AV. SA analyst Michael McGrath still emphasizes Cruise's substantial long-term potential, expecting autonomous ridehailing services to be a "very large market." (4 comments)

Looking for magic

Pressure is also mounting on Disney (DIS) CEO Bob Iger, who retook the helm exactly a year ago in an overhaul that included job cuts and prioritizing streaming profitability. The stock has largely flatlined since then, but investors are hoping Iger's upcoming town hall will discuss future opportunities for the company and give a clearer picture of his plans. Some shareholders aren't too happy with Iger, as activist Nelson Peltz - with ex-Marvel head Isaac Perlmutter's support - is threatening a proxy fight. Investing Group Leader Trapping Value rated Disney 'Hold,' with the team saying they would wait some more for Iger to work his magic. (2 comments)

Today's Markets

In Asia, Japan -0.6%. Hong Kong +1.9%. China +0.5%. India -0.2%.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.2%. Paris +0.2%. Frankfurt -0.2%.
Futures at 7:00, Dow flat. S&P +0.1%. Nasdaq +0.1%. Crude +1.6% to $77.28. Gold -0.5% to $1,974.70. Bitcoin +1.9% to $37,178.
Ten-year Treasury Yield +3 bps to 4.47%.

Today's Economic Calendar

10:00 Leading Indicators
1:00 PM Results of $16B, 20-Year Bond Auction

Companies reporting earnings today »

What else is happening...

October's credit card data show continued deterioration of quality.

Spot bitcoin ETFs may add billions to crypto market cap - Coinbase.

Short seller Jim Chanos closing hedge funds, will shift to advisory work.

Check Point sees 'fantastic' year ahead despite rivals' dim outlook.

SpaceX's (SPACE) Starship progresses further on second test flight.

Moody's lifts SoftBank's credit outlook to stable after Arm (ARM) IPO.

M&A, GLP-1s to dominate healthcare themes in 2024 as COVID fades.

Needham: Macro factors limiting near-term growth in dental market.

Argentina elects chainsaw-wielding outsider Javier Milei as president.

Crude oil bounces as more OPEC+ production cuts may be on the table.

Known to most as Uranium Pinto Beans, Jason has more than 15 years under his belt of trading stocks, options and currencies. His expertise primarily lies in chart analysis, and he has a strong eye for undervalued stock. Because he’s got the ability to identify great risk/reward trades he usually enjoys taking the path less traveled and reaping the benefits from the adventure.

He is a co-founder of Option Millionaires, and he is best known for his weekly webinars with Scott, as well as his high level training webinars and charts found in the forums.

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