Microsoft steps down as OpenAI board observer amid antitrust scrutiny

Microsoft has decided to step down from its observer position on OpenAI’s board, a move aimed at allaying concerns from U.S. and U.K. competition regulators about the scope of the company’s influence over the AI ​​startup amid the growing popularity of generative AI.

A source at the US Federal Trade Commission indicated that the move may not address the agency’s concerns as it reviews antitrust issues related to deals between Big Tech and leading AI firms. Meanwhile, Apple, which recently announced plans to integrate OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot into its devices, has also decided not to take an observer role on OpenAI’s board, according to the Financial Times.

In a letter to OpenAI, Microsoft said its observer position provided insight without compromising the board’s independence, citing OpenAI’s innovations and partnerships as reasons for stepping down. Meanwhile, EU regulators have said Microsoft does not control OpenAI under current merger rules, but U.K. and U.S. antitrust regulators continue to investigate Microsoft’s influence.

The antitrust lawyer noted that by giving up its observer position, Microsoft makes it harder for regulators to prove it has control over OpenAI. Since both companies aim to sell AI technology and generate revenue, Microsoft’s move is seen as a strategic effort to diversify its AI offerings and address regulatory concerns.

(Disclaimer: Based on information obtained from the agency.)