Amid Antitrust Scrutiny, Microsoft Drops OpenAI Board Observer Seat, and Apple, Reversing Course, Will Not Take One

Camilla Hodgson and George Hammond, reporting for The Financial Times:

Microsoft has given up its seat as an observer on the board of OpenAI while Apple will not take up a similar position, amid growing scrutiny by global regulators of Big Tech’s investments in AI start-ups.

Microsoft, which has invested $13bn in the maker of the generative AI chatbot ChatGPT, said in a letter to OpenAI that its withdrawal from its board role would be “effective immediately”.

Apple had also been expected to take an observer role on OpenAI’s board as part of a deal to integrate ChatGPT into the iPhone maker’s devices, but would not do so, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. Apple declined to comment.

OpenAI would instead host regular meetings with partners such as Microsoft and Apple and investors Thrive Capital and Khosla Ventures.

Apple’s board observer seat, set to be taken by Phil Schiller, was never officially announced. But after Mark Gurman broke the story at Bloomberg, it was confirmed by the Financial Times. So it really does seem like a fast reversal. Or as Emily Litella would say, “Never mind”. But I suspect these “regular meetings” will serve the same purpose, and I bet Schiller will be in those meetings representing Apple.

See also Reporting for Axios, Ina Fried has excerpts from Microsoft’s letter to OpenAI.

Wednesday, 10 July 2024