It was only a few months ago that Bret Taylor had two of the most important jobs in tech. Not only was he the co-CEO of Salesforce — alongside Marc Benioff — he also served as board chairman of Twitter during one of the most high-profile corporate takeovers in Silicon Valley history.
Taylor successfully negotiated with Elon Musk to sell Twitter for $44 billion, and then successfully sued to enforce the terms of the contract when Musk tried to back out. Once the deal finally closed in late October, the company dissolved its board and Taylor left. Taylor left Salesforce soon after.
He said at the time that he planned to return to his “entrepreneurial roots.” And he appears to be doing just that.
Taylor, whose résumé also includes co-creating Google Maps and serving as chief technology officer at Facebook, announced on Feb. 8 that for his next act he would be hopping on the very trendy artificial intelligence bandwagon.
AI is the next big thing in Silicon Valley
“Rarely do you encounter a new technology so powerful that it feels inevitable that it will change the course of every industry. I remember feeling that way when I first used a web browser in high school, and then again when I first saw Steve Jobs demonstrate the iPhone in 2007,” Taylor wrote in his announcement on LinkedIn. “I have that same sense of excitement and inevitability about modern AI, especially given recent advances in large language models.”
Taylor is teaming up with Clay Bavor, who is now vice president of Labs, Google’s experimental division. In his own LinkedIn post, Bavor said he would leave his post at Google in March to begin working with Taylor.
After excitement over the metaverse and crypto-based web3 dulled in the past year, Silicon Valley luminaries and financiers turned their attention instead to AI. This move was catalyzed in no small part by OpenAI, a company whose chatbot, known as ChatGPT, and image generator, known as DALL-E, have brought so-called “generative AI” technologies to the masses.
Microsoft announced a $10 billion investment in OpenAI and plans to integrate it with the search engine Bing. Meanwhile, Google and Facebook have unveiled generative AI bets of their own in a budding arms race.