Microsoft and Apple ditch OpenAI board seats amid regulatory scrutiny

July 10, 2024
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Microsoft has dropped its seat as an observer on the board of OpenAI, less than eight months after securing the non-voting seat. Apple was reportedly planning to join OpenAI’s nonprofit board, but now the Financial Times reports that Apple will no longer join the board.

OpenAI confirmed that Microsoft has given up its seat in a statement to The Verge, following reports from Axios and the Financial Times that Microsoft’s deputy general counsel Keith Dolliver wrote a letter to OpenAI late on Tuesday.

“We’re grateful to Microsoft for voicing confidence in the Board and the direction of the company, and we look forward to continuing our successful partnership,” says OpenAI spokesperson Steve Sharpe. “Under the leadership of CFO Sarah Friar, we are establishing a new approach to informing and engaging key strategic partners – such as Microsoft and Apple – and investors – such as Thrive Capital and Khosla Ventures.”

OpenAI’s new approach towards Microsoft and Apple will involve hosting “regular stakeholder meetings to share progress on our mission and ensure stronger collaboration across safety and security.”

The changes to OpenAI’s board come as antitrust concerns over Microsoft’s deal with OpenAI have grown in recent months. UK regulators started seeking views on Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI in December, shortly after the turmoil that led to the ousting of CEO Sam Altman and his return. EU regulators are also looking into the partnership, alongside other Big Tech AI deals. The FTC is also investigating Microsoft, Amazon, and Google investments into OpenAI and Anthropic.

Microsoft has invested more than $10 billion into OpenAI, in a deal that made Microsoft the exclusive cloud partner for OpenAI. Microsoft’s cloud services also power all OpenAI workloads across products, API services, and research. The deal has given Microsoft an edge in the AI race, and OpenAI’s models help power Microsoft’s Bing search engine, Copilot, and a host of AI features across its products and services.

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