Microsoft leaves OpenAI board

Microsoft leaves OpenAI board
Microsoft leaves OpenAI board

Microsoft has relinquished its observer seat on the board of OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT, the US computing giant said in a letter seen by AFP on Wednesday, as European and US regulators step up their oversight of the artificial intelligence (AI) market.

Over the past eight months, we have seen significant progress from the new Board of Directors and we are confident in the trajectory of the company.“, Microsoft said in the letter sent to OpenAI on Tuesday.We do not believe that our limited role as observer is still necessary,” added the company founded by Bill Gates, specifying that this withdrawal took effect “immediately“.

Microsoft has invested around $13 billion in OpenAI since their partnership began in 2019, raising questions on both sides of the Atlantic about the extent of its influence over the California-based startup founded in 2015.

The American giant had obtained an observer seat, without voting rights, on the board of directors of OpenAI in November 2023, after a war of words over whether or not Sam Altman should remain at the head of the company. The latter finally returned to his place, supported by the computer giant. The two companies market AI services for developers and individuals, and compete with Google and other tech giants in this field.

Oversight by US and European regulators

Regulators in Europe and the United States have begun to look into the dominance of the crucial AI market by a handful of digital giants. However, after an investigation, the European competition watchdog concluded in June that “as it stands,” Microsoft had not acquired a “sustainable control” on OpenAI. But the European Commission has requested new information from Microsoft on the agreement between the two companies “to understand whether certain exclusivity clauses could have a negative effect on competition“The US competition authority (FTC) has also announced an investigation into the multi-billion dollar investments made by Microsoft, Google and Amazon in the leading generative AI start-ups, OpenAI and Anthropic. Apple, which was in turn due to obtain an observer seat on the board of directors of OpenAI, has given up its seat following Microsoft’s withdrawal, several media outlets reported.

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