Microsoft drops OpenAI board observer seat amid scrutiny

  • Microsoft relinquished its board observer seat at OpenAI, citing improved governance and confidence in the AI start-up’s new direction.
  • Despite EU regulators not subjecting the partnership to merger rules, UK and U.S. antitrust authorities remain concerned about Microsoft’s influence over OpenAI.

Microsoft relinquished its observer seat on OpenAI’s board, citing improved governance and easing regulatory concerns. This move highlights efforts to balance innovation and compliance, ensuring OpenAI’s autonomy while addressing antitrust scrutiny. Microsoft’s ongoing influence and expansion into AI reflect a strategic commitment to competitive fairness and ethical AI governance.
–Jasmine Zhang, BTW reporter

What happened

Microsoft has relinquished its board observer seat at OpenAI, citing significant improvements in the AI start-up’s governance. Microsoft initially took the non-voting observer position in November after OpenAI CEO Sam Altman returned. This move had raised concerns among antitrust regulators in Europe, Britain, and the U.S. about Microsoft’s control over OpenAI.

Despite these concerns, EU regulators decided last month that the partnership wouldn’t fall under the bloc’s merger rules, while the UK and U.S. authorities remain wary. Microsoft’s $10 billion investment and the seat’s ability to access confidential information were central issues.

In a July 9 letter, Microsoft expressed confidence in OpenAI’s new board and direction, deeming their observer role unnecessary. Both companies are now focused on selling AI technology to enterprise customers, demonstrating independence to address regulatory concerns. Additionally, Microsoft is broadening its AI offerings on the Azure platform and has appointed Inflection’s CEO to lead its consumer AI division.

Also read: Exploring the OpenAI and Microsoft partnership

Also read: Microsoft, OpenAI plot US$100 billion Stargate AI supercomputer

Why it’s important

Microsoft ditches OpenAI board observer seat amid regulatory scrutiny. Beyond regulatory pressures, this move reflects a nuanced approach to balancing innovation with compliance. By relinquishing direct oversight, Microsoft aims to bolster OpenAI’s autonomy, crucial in an era scrutinising tech monopolies. Yet, with billions invested, Microsoft’s influence persists, prompting questions about true independence.

This strategic shift highlights a broader narrative of tech giants navigating antitrust landscapes while expanding AI frontiers. Microsoft’s move to diversify its AI portfolio and leadership signals a robust commitment to competitive fairness. The evolving dynamics between Microsoft and OpenAI are pivotal, shaping not just market competition but also ethical AI governance globally. As AI powers diverse sectors, transparency and collaboration between tech companies and regulators become increasingly vital for fostering innovation responsibly.


Jasmine Zhang

Jasmine Zhang is an intern reporter at Blue Tech Wave specialising in AI and Fintech. She graduated from Kunming University of Science and Technology. Send tips to

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