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Former Google chief and Chairman Eric Schmidt heaped high praise on OpenAI CEO Sam Altman on Tuesday, likening the leader of the pioneering artificial intelligence company to iconic late Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs.
Schmidt made the comparison during a sit-down at the Axios AI+ Summit, after Axios co-founder Mike Allen asked for his take on the recent drama at OpenAI over the past few weeks, which saw Altman ousted by the previous board only to be reinstated days later and the board largely replaced after nearly every OpenAI employee threatened to quit.
“It’s pretty simple,” Schmidt told the moderator. “The board tries to fire Sam. Sam fires the board.”
“Don’t fire a Steve Jobs,” he continued. “I mean, c’mon guys, you work it out.”
“Here’s a guy, young man who worked very, very hard to build this industry,” Schmidt said of Altman. “And he managed to create through his team who are so loyal to him that even after the board fired him again on the Sunday, the employees revolted and said the company or the board, right? How much more feedback do you need in your 360 about the CEO?”
This is not the first time Schmidt has made public declaration praising the CEO of ChatGPT developer OpenAI, which is backed by Google rival Microsoft.
Following Altman’s ouster on Nov. 17, Schmidt took to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, to defend the AI guru.
“Sam Altman is a hero of mine,” Schmidt wrote in the post that is still pinned to the top of the former Google boss’s feed. “He built a company from nothing to $90 Billion in value, and changed our collective world forever. I can’t wait to see what he does next. I, and billions of people, will benefit from his future work- it’s going to be simply incredible. Thank you @sama for all you have done for all of us.”
Schmidt, the co-founder of Schmidt Futures, is an expert on AI who served as chairman of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence. In 2021, he co-authored “The Age of AI” with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and MIT computer scientist Dan Huttenlocher, which explored developments in AI technology and the way it will transform human society.
He has consistently called for guardrails that protect against the risks of AI, which he reiterated at the Axios conference on Tuesday.
Schmidt said the restrictions AI companies have in place today to prevent their products from causing harm “aren’t enough” to prevent AI from developing capabilities that could endanger humanity within the next decade, Axios reported.
FOX Business’ Chris Pandolfo contributed to this report.
Disney chief executive Bob Iger acknowledged during a company-wide town hall Tuesday that his second stretch at the helm since returning a year ago has proven more difficult than he expected.
Iger made that admission to ABC News anchor David Muir, who moderated the event before Disney employees, and asked if the job has been more challenging than he had anticipated, according to multiple reports.
“I knew that there were myriad challenges that I would face coming back,” Iger said, according to Variety, and The Wall Street Journal reported the CEO continued, “I must say there were many more of them than I anticipated.”
He added, “I won’t say that it was easy, but I’ve never second guessed the decision to come back, and being back still feels great.”
According to Variety, Iger did not make any major announcements during the sit-down at New Amsterdam Theatre in New York, where he was joined by Disney Entertainment co-chairs Dana Walden and Alan Bergman, Disney parks chairman Josh D’Amaro, and ESPN chairman James Pitaro.
The Journal reported Iger said he plans to build the “modern version of the Walt Disney Company” over the next year, but the CEO provided scant details. He also downplayed previous comments he made to CNBC over the summer about potentially selling off media assets.
Iger returned to the role of Disney CEO in November 2022, a position he previously held from 2005 to early 2020. Since his return, he has sought to “quiet the noise” in culture wars after his predecessor made moves that irked conservatives and sparked a high-profile political showdown.
Former CEO Bob Chapek took a public stand against a Florida bill that bars teachers from providing instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms. That escalated into a battle with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, which resulted in the Republican-led state legislature revoking Disney World’s self-governing authority in the state, sparking legal actions from both sides that are ongoing.
Disney has also been embroiled in a battle with activist investor Nelson Petz, who faced off with company leadership in January.
In the board fight with Disney that kicked off 2023, Peltz said in a press release that the entertainment giant had lost its way over the course of recent years “resulting in a rapid deterioration in its financial performance from a consistent dividend-paying, high free cash flow generative business into a highly leveraged enterprise with reduced earnings power and weak free cash flow conversion.”
Disney pushed back on Peltz’s claims, arguing in a regulatory filing that he “does not understand Disney’s businesses and lacks the skills and experience to assist the board in delivering shareholder value in a rapidly shifting media ecosystem.” The company also said the hedge fund’s analysis of its financial transactions was flawed.
It is recently-released fourth-quarter financial results, Disney reported overall revenue for the three-month period of $21.24 billion and net income of $246 million.
“While we still have work to do to continue improving results, our progress has allowed us to move beyond this period of fixing and begin building our businesses again,” Iger said during an earnings call earlier this month.
At the time, he identified hitting “sustained” profitability in streaming business, turning ESPN into a “preeminent digital sports platform,” making improvements at its film studios and “turbocharging” growth in its Experiences segment as four “key building opportunities.” Its parks and cruises fall under the Experiences segment.
The entertainment giant indicated earlier this month it would trim $2 billion more in costs, raising its annual savings goal to $7.5 billion.
Disney shares have gained over 10% this year, behind the S&P 500’s 18%+ rise.
FOX Business’ Eric Revell and Aislinn Murphy contributed to this report.
Customers taking Red Lobster up on its Ultimate Endless Shrimp deal contributed to a quarterly operating loss for the chain, according to investor Thai Union Group.
In early November, Thai Union Group disclosed the share of loss from operations came in at 395 million Thai baht for Red Lobster in the third quarter. That was the equivalent of $11.3 million based on Tuesday’s exchange rate.
Group CFO Ludovic Garnier, speaking during the company’s quarterly meeting with analysts, linked that loss partly to Red Lobster’s Ultimate Endless Shrimp deal.
Under that promotion, made available on a daily basis at the chain’s U.S. restaurants starting in late June, customers could pay $20 to eat as much of two shrimp options as they liked. It was previously a temporary offer.
“Something that was different from our expectation is the proportion of the people selecting this [Ultimate Endless Shrimp] promotion was much higher compared to expectation,” Garnier said.
“Of course, we know on this promotion, we don’t earn a lot of money at $20. We don’t,” the group CFO said, according to footage of the meeting. “The idea was to bring some traffic. We get some traffic increase, not to the level we were expecting, but still we are growing compared to last year and compared to the previous quarters. But bottom line in terms of financial performance, it did not deliver what we were expecting.”
In the third quarter, Red Lobster saw a 2% quarter-over-quarter and nearly 4% year-over-year rise in traffic in part due to the shrimp deal, Garnier said. Later in the call, he told analysts he thought the chain’s guest count may have dropped in the quarter without it.
The chain raised the cost of the deal, first to $22 and then to $25, according to Garnier.
“We do believe it’s a very strong promotion. It’s one of the iconic promotions for Red Lobster, so we’re going to keep it on the menu,” he said, adding the company needed to be “much more careful” about its pricing.
Restaurant Business Online earlier reported on the deal’s financial impact.
“Industry headwinds, including high material and labor costs, high interest rates and a cyclically lower quarter” also drove the operating loss, according to Thai Union Group.
Thai Union Group has predicted Red Lobster will post 700 Thai baht share of loss from operations for the fiscal year. That will represent a significant decline from the 1.2 billion Thai baht it saw from operations in 2022.
Brands that fall under Thai Union Group’s umbrella include Chicken of the Sea, Genova Premium Tuna, Sealect, Fisho and others, according to its website.
Shares of the company’s stock have experienced about a 15% drop over the past 12 months.