Web Stories Wednesday, February 28

DAVOS, Switzerland: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday (Jan 16) 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.

“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.

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.

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.

Microsoft has since 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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