Microsoft, Apple exit observer roles on OpenAI board

The decision was communicated via a letter to OpenAI, citing the company's satisfaction with the progress made by the newly formed board


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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Published: Wed 10 Jul 2024, 11:58 AM

Last updated: Wed 10 Jul 2024, 11:59 AM

In a move reflecting shifting dynamics in the tech industry, both Microsoft and Apple have decided to relinquish their observer seats on the board of OpenAI, reported UK-based 'The Financial Times'. The move comes amidst reports of increased regulatory scrutiny over the involvement of tech giants in AI startups.

Microsoft, which had invested significantly in OpenAI, including a substantial $13 billion investment in its generative AI technology, ChatGPT, has announced its immediate withdrawal from its observer role on OpenAI's board.

The decision was communicated via a letter to OpenAI, citing the company's satisfaction with the progress made by the newly formed board.

Similarly, Apple, which was expected to take up a similar observer role as part of an agreement to integrate ChatGPT into its devices, has opted not to do so.

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Although Apple declined to comment on the matter, sources familiar with the situation indicate that the tech giant will not be taking an observer position on OpenAI's board.

In response to these developments, OpenAI has announced a revised strategy for engaging with its strategic partners and investors.

According to the FT report, the organisation plans to hold regular meetings with partners like Microsoft and Apple, along with investors such as Thrive Capital and Khosla Ventures.

This shift, as explained by an OpenAI spokesperson, aims to foster a more inclusive and collaborative approach to governance and strategic decision-making.

The board of OpenAI recently saw the addition of Phil Schiller, Apple's former marketing chief, as an observer, which was reported just days before these withdrawals.

However, Schiller will no longer be observing OpenAI's operations, highlighting the fluidity and perhaps underlying tensions within the organisation's boardroom dynamics.

Analysts speculate that the decision by Microsoft and Apple to step back from their observer roles could be linked to strategic considerations or internal dynamics within OpenAI.

While some suggest possible concerns over antitrust scrutiny or strategic disagreements, the exact motivations behind these decisions remain unclear.


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