Microsoft boss Satya Nadella says tech giant has ‘no issue’ with OpenAI structure despite Sam Altman drama

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By Dan Sears

Microsoft boss Satya Nadella insisted Tuesday that he has “no issue” with the governance structure at OpenAI – despite a high-profile internal beef that briefly forced out its CEO Sam Altman last year.

OpenAI, a nonprofit governed by a board whose mission is to ensure the firm prioritizes safety over profit, received major scrutiny after it fired Altman last November – with directors claiming they had “lost confidence” because he was “not consistently candid.”

“What we just want is good stability,” Nadella said during an event at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, according to Bloomberg.

“We invested, we partnered when they were whatever they were and whatever they are today — a capped-profit, nonprofit, what have you. So I’m comfortable. I have no issues with any structure,” Nadella added.

Microsoft, which has committed some $13 billion to OpenAI, was one of multiple investors that were blindsided when OpenAI’s board fired Altman.

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Nadella reportedly played a key role in negotiations that led to Altman being reinstated five days later.

OpenAI has since unveiled plans for a revamped board of directors that includes ex-Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and ex-Twitter chair Bret Taylor.

Microsoft received a non-voting observer seat.


Satya Nadella
Satya Nadella said he has “no issue” with governance at OpenAI. AP

Both Microsoft and OpenAI are facing a new headache as the US Federal Trade Commission and regulators in the UK probe the multibillion-dollar partnership.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority cited “a number of developments in the governance of OpenAI, some of which involved Microsoft” as having prompted the probe.

Nadella argued while speaking in Davos that Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI was a “highly risky bet” that came before the startup released ChatGPT, the popular AI chatbot that propelled it to global fame.

“It’s inevitable that regulators everywhere are going to look at what a company of our size and scale does,” Nadella said. “At the end of the day you want new entrants. That’s the core of making sure you have vibrant competition.”

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Satya Nadella
Microsoft’s Satya Nadella reportedly a key role in the talks that led Sam Altman to return as CEO of OpenAI. AFP via Getty Images

The World Economic Forum’s ritzy summit also featured an appearance by Altman – who hinted that the revamped board will review its bizarre governance structure.

“I expect us to make a lot of progress on that in the coming months,” Altman said. “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 added.

With Post wires

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