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Why OpenAI’s chairman is betting big on this AI frontier [Video]

OpenAI chairman Bret Taylor knows a thing or two about spotting the next big thing in tech.

So when Taylor — whom I got to know during his time as co-CEO of Salesforce (CRM) — decides to give me a few minutes, let’s just say I pick up the phone.

Or, in this particular case, do an interview on Yahoo Finance Live (video above) with him and his latest co-founder Clay Bavor.

“Clay and I really believe that conversational AI is going to be the way companies interact with their customers in the future,” said Taylor, who co-created Google Maps, then launched businesses that were sold for top dollar to Facebook (META) and Salesforce.

Enter Taylor’s new venture Sierra, which just emerged from stealth mode this week.

Taylor has been building the startup alongside friend and former Google (GOOG, GOOGL) colleague Bavor since he left Salesforce in late 2022.

Reportedly valued at nearly $1 billion after a $110 million funding round from VC heavyweights Benchmark and Sequoia, Sierra is essentially a customer service bot on steroids.

The bot is purported to have the capabilities for conversations with real people. As the interactions with humans evolve, so too will the bot as it leverages various large language models.

End goal: happier customers for businesses and more profitable sales streams.

Here comes more conversational AI. Sierra is the latest entrant. (Photo courtesy of Sierra) (Sierra)

Taylor pushed back on Sierra being another customer service bot amongst a plethora of new AI bots.

“I think [conversational AI is] so much bigger than that. I look at ChatGPT, it grew to 100 million users — faster than any consumer product in history. I think it really represents a sea change in consumer behavior,” Taylor says.

Added Bavor, “We are running towards one of the most challenging — and we think potentially impactful — problems in AI, which is putting AI directly in front of your customers.”

The San Francisco-based firm has already landed several well-known brands as clients: SiriusXM (SIRI), Sonos (SONO), and WeightWatchers (WW).

Full stop, it’s anyone’s guess where Sierra is going to be one year from now. I suspect it will have a lot more customers while the bot will be even sharper. Knowing Taylor, I suspect the business will add new services that complement its core mission.

Over time, Sierra could follow the route of Taylor’s other ventures and be part of a larger tech giant (perhaps Salesforce again?).

But one thing is for certain: The next wave of AI is starting to arrive, and with it we will get a glimpse into the business impact of this new generation of bots.

McKinsey estimates that generative AI could add the equivalent of $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion annually to the global economy. About 75% of that value could be delivered across four areas: customer operations, marketing and sales, software engineering, and research and development.

The numbers are more eye-opening within specific sectors.

Across the banking industry, for example, the technology could deliver value equal to an additional $200 billion to $340 billion annually if the use cases are fully implemented. In retail and consumer packaged goods, the potential impact is at “$400 billion to $660 billion a year,” McKinsey’s researchers found.

The robots aren’t coming — they are here.

Brian Sozzi is Yahoo Finance’s Executive Editor. Follow Sozzi on Twitter/X @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn. Tips on deals, mergers, activist situations, or anything else? Email

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