Microsoft leaves OpenAI board, Apple holds off on decision amid pressure to strike AI deals

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Microsoft has resigned from its seat on OpenAI’s board, and Apple will no longer hold an equivalent role, according to a news report Wednesday. It’s an unexpected move by the tech giants, which are vying for dominance in the AI ​​space amid increasing regulatory scrutiny of their AI investments.

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“It’s hard not to conclude that Microsoft’s decision was largely influenced by ongoing competition/antitrust scrutiny of its (and other major tech players’) influence over emerging AI players like Open AI,” Alex Haffner, a competition partner at U.K. law firm Fladgate, told Forbes in a statement. While Microsoft may have “claimed a ‘victory’” in June when the European Commission announced it was opening an investigation into Microsoft and Open AI, the powerful regulator has made clear that it continues to scrutinize the companies’ relationships in the AI ​​space and remains “very focused on the complex web of interconnectedness that big tech companies have created with AI vendors.” With that in mind, Haffner said there’s a need for “Microsoft and others to carefully consider how they structure these arrangements going forward.”

Key general information

While Big Tech thrived under minimal antitrust scrutiny for a decade, the Silicon Valley giants have seen their outsize influence and size come under pressure from global competition regulators in recent years, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The investigations and enforcement have focused on areas central to the digital economy, including how tech companies like Apple and Google dominate online and app markets; how companies like Meta approach privacy and advertising; and anticompetitive acquisitions like Microsoft’s $69 billion purchase of gaming studio Blizzard. The boom in generative AI, sparked by the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot assistant in late 2022, has sparked a race to develop increasingly sophisticated AI tools that has engulfed both tech giants and upstarts. It has produced tools like OpenAI’s Sora, Google’s Gemini, Microsoft’s Copilot, Adobe’s Firefly and Anthropic’s Claude, and has raised concerns about the technology’s impact on jobs and its ability to spread disinformation. Antitrust regulators worry that giants like chipmakers Nvidia, Microsoft and Amazon could be making life harder for smaller players. Microsoft, for example, has come under scrutiny in Europe and the US for its AI deals, including a $13 billion investment in OpenAI and a $4 billion “acqui-hire” startup Inflection; Google is facing an investigation into plans to pre-install its Gemini AI on Samsung phones; and Amazon for a $4 billion investment in Anthropic.

Forbes valuation

Altman has an estimated net worth of $1 billion. His wealth comes mostly from his role as a venture capitalist, not from OpenAI, in which he has no stake. Before founding OpenAI, Altman founded the social mapping company Loopt and was a partner and CEO of tech startup accelerator Y Combinator, which he left to focus on an AI startup. His investments include stakes in fintech darling Stripe, social media platform Reddit and nuclear fusion venture Helion.

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Further reading

ForbesApple’s AI Privacy Promise: Here’s Why It Says Its AI Tech Will Be More Secure Than Its Competition
ForbesChina Beats US in Global AI Patent Race – Here’s Why It Doesn’t Mean It’s Winning the AI ​​WarForbesAnthropic’s Claude: What You Need to Know About ChatGPT’s Rival After Its Latest Model Beats Industry GiantsForbesSam Altman Was Not Fired From Y Combinator, Founder Says OpenAI Boss Faces Criticism From Former Board Member