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Microsoft has given up its non-voting observer seat on OpenAI's board

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Last year, OpenAI included Microsoft as a non-voting observer on its board. OpenAI's board currently comprises Independent Directors Bret Taylor (Chair), Sam Altman, Adam D'Angelo, Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann, Retired U.S. Army General Paul M. Nakasone, Nicole Seligman, Fidji Simo, and Larry Summers. Today, Microsoft has notified OpenAI that it is giving up its observer seat on OpenAI's board. Microsoft's deputy general counsel, Keith Dolliver, wrote a letter to OpenAI's board regarding this on Tuesday, and its decision to leave OpenAI's board is effective immediately.

Here's why Microsoft is giving up its observer seat on OpenAI's board:

  • Microsoft accepted the non-voting board observer role at a time when OpenAI was in the process of rebuilding its board.
  • This observer position provided insights into the board's activities without compromising its independence.
  • Over the past eight months, Microsoft saw significant progress from the newly formed board and is confident in OpenAI's direction.
  • So, Microsoft believes that its limited role as an observer is no longer necessary.

Despite not being part of OpenAI's board, OpenAI remains one of Microsoft's most valued partners. OpenAI's spokesperson provided the following statement regarding Microsoft's decision to leave OpenAI's board:

"We're grateful to Microsoft for voicing confidence in the Board and the direction of the company, and we look forward to continuing our successful partnership."

Last week, Bloomberg reported that Apple would get a non-voting observer board seat at OpenAI, matching Microsoft's influence. However, The Financial Times today reported that Apple is not joining OpenAI's board. On a related note, Apple last month announced that it would integrate OpenAI's ChatGPT in iOS, macOS, and iPadOS.

Microsoft's departure from OpenAI's board signals a significant milestone in their relationship, highlighting a shift from oversight to partnership. While Microsoft's formal presence on the board may be ending, its collaboration with OpenAI is expected to continue to flourish.

Source: The Financial Times

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