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Microsoft resigns from observer position on OpenAI board

 


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Microsoft has announced that it will give up its observer status on the OpenAI board amid growing regulatory scrutiny of generative artificial intelligence in Europe and the United States.

Microsoft deputy general counsel Keith Dolliver wrote to OpenAI late Tuesday saying the role has provided insight into the board's activities without compromising its independence.

But the letter, seen by CNBC, added that the seat is no longer necessary because Microsoft has “seen significant progress from its newly created board.” CNBC has reached out to Microsoft and OpenAI for comment.

The European Commission had previously said Microsoft could face an antitrust investigation as a result of its investigation into the markets for virtual worlds and generative artificial intelligence.

The European Commission said in January that it was “investigating several agreements concluded between large digital market players and generative AI developers and providers,” specifically naming Microsoft's partnership with OpenAI as a target of its investigation.

The EU later concluded that the observer role did not alter OpenAI's independence, but EU regulators are seeking further independent opinions on the deal, and the UK Competition and Markets Authority remains concerned.

Microsoft took a non-voting seat on OpenAI's board of directors in November to allay some of the doubts about its interest in the startup, following a tumultuous period in which OpenAI CEO Sam Altman was fired and then quickly rehired.

In a memo to staff at the time, Altman said it was clear OpenAI “made the right choice in partnering with Microsoft and is pleased that the company will join our new board as a non-voting observer.”

OpenAI has emerged as one of the hottest startups in the world since releasing its ChatGPT chatbot in late 2022. The technology allows users to enter simple text queries and get smart, creative answers that lead to deeper conversations.

Microsoft has poured billions of dollars into the startup, bringing its total investment to date to a reported $13 billion. The tech giant's investment and partnership with OpenAI has made it a leader in advancing the underlying AI models.

Sources

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2/ https://www.cnbc.com/2024/07/10/microsoft-reportedly-drops-its-observer-seat-on-openai-board.html

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