Instagram Threads missed its moment to truly challenge X, this weekend’s OpenAI scandal indicates. Over the past few days, as news of the board’s decision to remove Sam Altman as CEO of OpenAI spread and the impacts of this wild and unexpected change rippled across the company’s technology ecosystem. Silicon Valley, the conversation was not happening on Threads, but on the latest boardroom dramaTHE threat of employee exodusthe transition to maybe reinstate Altmanthen Microsoft’s announcement Monday morning that Altman and OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman have joined the company to lead a new AI team.
Experts, tech executives, and others affected by the OpenAI drama, including key players like Altman and Brockman, also used the X platform to share their statements and convey their feelings about the changes. On Altman’s part, these ranged from declarations about his love for the OpenAI team to a selfie in which he held up an OpenAI guest pass, commenting: “First and last time I wear one a” – a nod to the fact that the tech world was tuning in to his account for the latest updates.
On was supposed to signal to the board of directors who was loyal to Altman and might leave OpenAI to follow him in his next venture.
Veteran journalist Kara Swisher, co-host of the Pivot podcast, also began reporting the shakeup directly on X. She pointed out that Microsoft – whose headline “was killed by the news” of the ouster – only discovered it minutes before OpenAI’s press release was published. She later scoop the reasoning behind the firing, attributing it to a misalignment between the for-profit arm and the non-profit nature of OpenAI as a company, with its recent Developer Day bringing these tensions to a head.
In addition to news arriving quickly from various publications, the main characters — like Altman and Brockman, Mira Murati, then-acting CEOand Ilya Sutskever, chief scientist of OpenAI, among others, also used the X platform to share their thoughts, feelings and various statements on the situation.
Highlights included Altman’s “I love you all” tweet, favorited 91,000 times; theories that Altman sent an enigmatic message about Ilya’s involvement (the first letters of I Love You spell ILYA, Bloomberg’s Emily Chang noted); Brockman’s message sharing his message to the OpenAI team after “learning the news of the day” which suggested that he too had been caught off guard; his next expression of shock and disbelief; and that of Murati message now worrying that “OpenAI is nothing without its people.
Rumors of replacement council candidates like Marissa Mayer and Brian Chesky also began tweeting in support of Altman and Brockman. Mayer she even declared herself an “AI optimist” and suggested that the board should not simply resign, but that OpenAI’s governance itself had “structural flaws” that needed to be fixed.
Later Sutskever turned to X to express his regrets for his role in leading the board’s rebellion against Altman. “It was never my intention to harm OpenAI,” he wrote after considerable damage had already been done.
This timely news opportunity could have happened anywhere – X now has many rivals, among decentralized competitors like Mastodon And Blue skyto startups like Spread And Job, to Instagram feeds owned by Big Tech. But much of the OpenAI drama played out on X.
Despite the r inrecent advertiser departures on brand safety issues and reports of declining usage, X continues to prove “stickier” than initially thought. Recent market information suggests that the decline of The number of daily active users does not necessarily come from reduced retention or longtime Twitter users leaving the platform, but from X’s inability to make up the losses with new users after its change of direction. brand in X, which caused it to lose App Store search rankings.
At the same time, Meta positioned Threads as a non-news-focused alternative to X. In October, Instagram head Adam Mosseri even specifically said that the company’s rival would not amplify the news on its platform in an effort to avoid risks, given the relative immaturity of its platform. It also blocked certain news-related search terms, like Covid, pointing instead to government resources.
Because of this position, Threads has missed its moment to become a place where the biggest news happens (at least in tech), ceding that ground to where it’s always been before: Twitter/X.
Yet all the talk and drama about OpenAI hasn’t actually helped X improve its metrics. There’s no indication that those who haven’t yet used the app went to download it to learn more about the OpenAI drama, the market intelligence provider notes. data.ai. In fact, the company said, X’s overall iOS rankings fell further from earlier this month.