As ChatGPT grows in popularity, Google CEO Sundar Pichai is facing criticism for his slow response over the company’s artificial intelligence chat tool Bard.
The chatbot from OpenAI is said to have reached over 100 million active users since January, just two months after its launch. An average of about 13 million unique visitors, as per a UBS study, used ChatGPT per day in January. OpenAI made ChatGPT available to the public for free in late November 2022.
In a companywide email, Pichai told employees that this moment is uncomfortably exciting – the underlying technology is evolving rapidly with so much potential. He asked employees to spend two to four hours of their time on Bard and reminded them that Google has not always been the first to release a product, and it hasn’t hampered the company’s ability to win. “Some of our most successful products were not first to market. They gained momentum because they solved important user needs and were built on deep technical insights.
Pichai’s email comes after several staffers took to Memegen, a popular internal forum, to say that Bard announcement was “rushed”, “botched” and “unGoogley”. “Dear Sundar, the Bard launch and the layoffs were rushed, botched and myopic. Please return to taking a long-term outlook,” a post said. Another read that “Sundar and leadership, deserve a PerfNI” (referring to the lowest category in the company’s employee performance review system) – “They are being comically short sighted and un-Googley in their pursuit of sharpening focus.” One such highly rated meme stated that rushing Bard to market in a panic validated the market’s fear about Google.
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Moreover, investors slammed Alphabet, Google’s parent company, after Microsoft came out with a ChatGPT-integrated Bing search engine. Google announced Bard, a conversation technology, but a series of missteps pushed the tech company’s stock price down by to nearly 9 percent. Pichai asked every Googler to help shape Bard and contribute through a special company-wide dogfood (using one’s own product before launching it).
Now in his latest email, the CEO told employees that it will be a long journey for everyone. “The most important thing we can do right now is to focus on building a great product and developing it responsibly.”
Pichai acknowledged to AI has gone through many seasons. “And now it is blooming again. It’s time to embrace the challenge and keep iterating.”