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Microsoft and Apple Step Down from Observer Roles on OpenAI Board

Photo : Reuters

In a significant development reflecting the evolving dynamics in the tech industry, Microsoft and Apple have chosen to step down from their observer roles on the board of OpenAI. This decision, reported by the UK-based 'The Financial Times,' comes amid increasing regulatory scrutiny over the involvement of major tech companies in AI startups.

Microsoft, which has made substantial investments in OpenAI, including a notable USD 13 billion towards the development of its generative AI technology, ChatGPT, has officially withdrawn from its observer position. The company communicated its decision through a letter to OpenAI, expressing satisfaction with the progress achieved by the newly established board.

Similarly, Apple, which was expected to take on an observer role as part of an agreement to integrate ChatGPT into its devices, has decided against assuming this position. While Apple has not provided an official comment, sources indicate that the tech giant will not be participating as an observer on OpenAI's board.

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In light of these changes, OpenAI has announced a revised approach for engaging with its strategic partners and investors. According to the report by 'The Financial Times,' OpenAI plans to conduct regular meetings with partners such as Microsoft and Apple, alongside investors like Thrive Capital and Khosla Ventures. This new strategy aims to create a more inclusive and collaborative governance framework.

Recently, the board of OpenAI welcomed Phil Schiller, Apple's former marketing chief, as an observer. However, with the recent withdrawals, Schiller will no longer be part of OpenAI's boardroom discussions, underscoring the fluid and potentially tense dynamics within the organization.

Analysts speculate that Microsoft's and Apple's decisions to step back from their observer roles may be influenced by strategic considerations or internal dynamics within OpenAI. While some suggest concerns over antitrust scrutiny or strategic disagreements as possible reasons, the exact motivations remain unclear.

This development highlights the ongoing shifts in the relationships between tech giants and AI startups, as regulatory pressures and strategic interests continue to shape their engagements.

July 10, 2024 2:39 p.m. 345

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