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HomeTechMicrosoft's Satya Nadella 'comfortable' with OpenAI non-profit despite Altman ouster

Microsoft’s Satya Nadella ‘comfortable’ with OpenAI non-profit despite Altman ouster


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday said he had no issue with partner OpenAI‘s governance structure, two months after the startup’s non-profit board temporarily ousted its chief executive without regard to investors’ interests.


The surprise November dismissal of OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman over an alleged communication breakdown triggered a crisis at the startup behind ChatGPT, in which employees threatened to resign en masse and go work for Microsoft, which is backing OpenAI with billions of dollars.

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“I’m comfortable. I have no issues with any structure,” Nadella said at a Bloomberg News event on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos.

OpenAI’s board, charged with protecting the startup non-profit’s mission to develop powerful artificial intelligence that benefits humanity, ultimately restored Altman days later and now is in the process of filling out its membership.

“I expect us to make a lot of progress on that in the coming months,” OpenAI CEO Altman said at a later Bloomberg event in Davos. “And then after that, the new board will take a look at the governance structure.”

“We’ll go look at it from all angles,” he said.

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Microsoft has now secured a non-voting observer position on the OpenAI board. Competition authorities in Europe, Britain and reportedly the United States have started looking closely at the Microsoft-OpenAI relationship. Their agreement guarantees the Windows maker large chunks of the startup’s profits depending on certain conditions, a person briefed on the terms has said.

According to Nadella, the fact that Microsoft does not fully own OpenAI distinguished their deal in a pro-competitive way.

“Partnerships is one avenue of, in fact, having competition,” he said.

Microsoft’s investments in computing power and years-old bet on OpenAI before its ChatGPT fame, Nadella said, were a “highly risky bet” and “not all conventional wisdom”.

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