Googlers slam CEO and call Bard reveal ‘botched’

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Google employees have slammed CEO Sundar Pichai and called the Bard chatbot reveal ‘botched’.

Microsoft’s alternative, ChatGPT, set off alarm bells at Google. In response, Pichai invited Google founders – Larry Page and Sergey Brin – to return for a series of meetings to review the company’s AI strategy.

Following those meetings, it was clear that Google intended to get its AI products to market faster. The company allegedly decided to speed up its AI review process to that end.

However, it’s worth noting that Google AI Chief Jeff Dean told employees at the time that the company has more “reputational risk” in providing wrong information. That’s worth remembering for a bit later.

Rumours that Microsoft was to integrate a new version of ChatGPT, powered by GPT-4, into Bing appeared to turn the alarm bells at Google into a full-blown siren.

Google announced a relatively last-minute AI event in what was widely perceived to be an attempt to get the jump on Microsoft’s announcement. Microsoft then announced an even more last-minute event.

A day before Microsoft’s event, Pichai published a blog post to announce Bard. Google technically beat Microsoft to its announcements but the post largely just sounded like it was playing catch-up to ChatGPT rather than offering anything new.

Microsoft’s event the next day stole the spotlight. The latest version of ChatGPT, integrated with Bing and Edge – with Office and more on the horizon – proved to be impressive. Within 48 hours, more than one million people registered to test it. Despite being last-minute, the event was polished.

Next up was Google’s event. What was presented wasn’t bad, per se, but largely rehashed previous announcements in what felt like an attempt to remind people that Google hasn’t been left behind in AI.

However, the main issue with Google’s event is that – off the back of Microsoft’s – it just felt rushed. That somewhat culminated when a presenter’s phone went missing so a live demo couldn’t take place.

While Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was on-stage at the company’s own event looking relaxed and cracking jokes, Pichai was nowhere to be seen at Google’s counterpart.

Googlers took to the internal forum ‘Memegen’ to criticise Pichai’s leadership. One wrote, “Dear Sundar, the Bard launch and the layoffs were rushed, botched, and myopic” and called on Pichai to “please return to taking a long-term outlook.”

A promo video for Bard showed the chatbot giving a wrong answer:

Such a blunder in a pre-recorded clip, where it’s obvious the chatbot’s answers will be heavily scrutinised, really highlights why Googlers are so concerned about the firm’s current strategy.

Investors also gave their verdict on the proceedings. Following Google’s event, the company’s shares plunged almost 10 percent—shedding $120 billion off the company’s value. As of writing, the company’s shares have declined a further four percent.

“Rushing Bard to market in a panic validated the market’s fear about us,” another Googler wrote on Memegen.

Some Googlers were allegedly unaware of the event taking place at all. The majority appear to wish they could erase the event from everyone’s memory and give Bard the launch it really deserves.

(Image Credit: Maurizio Pesce under CC BY 2.0 license)

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