Home News Microsoft Ceases ‘Observer’ Role at OpenAI: Implications and Future Outlook

Microsoft Ceases ‘Observer’ Role at OpenAI: Implications and Future Outlook

Microsoft Ceases 'Observer' Role at OpenAI

Microsoft has recently relinquished its “observer” seat on OpenAI’s board, less than eight months after securing the non-voting position. This decision follows Apple’s similar move and comes amidst growing scrutiny from U.S. and UK regulators regarding Microsoft’s influence over the AI startup.

Shifting Dynamics in Microsoft’s OpenAI Involvement

Initially, Microsoft had intended to join OpenAI’s non-profit board but has since altered its course. The company attributes this change to the significant improvement in the AI startup’s governance over the past eight months.

Regulatory Scrutiny and Antitrust Concerns

The decision to step down from the board observer role is seen as a response to regulatory concerns regarding the extent of Microsoft’s control over OpenAI. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is actively investigating Big Tech’s involvement in AI partnerships, and Microsoft’s move may be a proactive measure to address potential antitrust issues.

OpenAI’s Evolving Approach to Strategic Partnerships

OpenAI, under the leadership of CFO Sarah Friar, plans to adopt a new approach to engage with strategic partners such as Microsoft and Apple, as well as investors like Thrive Capital and Khosla Ventures. This approach involves regular meetings and direct engagement with Microsoft to maintain collaboration while ensuring a degree of separation to mitigate regulatory concerns.

The Path Ahead for Microsoft and OpenAI

OpenAI has indicated that it will not offer board observer roles in the future. Instead, the company will focus on direct engagement with key partners like Microsoft through regular meetings.

Microsoft’s Substantial Investment in OpenAI

Microsoft’s commitment to OpenAI is evident in its reported investment of over ₹82,000 crores ($10 billion) in the AI startup. This investment makes Microsoft the exclusive cloud partner for OpenAI, powering all OpenAI workloads across various products and services. The partnership has also given Microsoft a competitive advantage in the AI landscape, with OpenAI’s models contributing to Microsoft’s Bing search engine, Copilot, and other AI-powered features.


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