Microsoft Assumes Non-Voting Observer Role on OpenAI’s Board

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In his inaugural communication since reclaiming leadership of OpenAI, CEO Sam Altman revealed that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) will adopt a non-voting, observer position on the company’s board. This means that Microsoft’s representative will be able to attend board meetings and access confidential information but will not possess voting rights on crucial matters such as director elections.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who had recruited Altman back to Microsoft following his departure from OpenAI, had previously emphasized the need for governance changes within the ChatGPT maker. Last week, OpenAI announced its revamped initial board, featuring Bret Taylor as chair and Larry Summers as a member. Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, part of the board that removed Altman, retained his position in the new board.

The board is actively seeking six additional members with expertise spanning technology, safety, and policy. OpenAI investors are not expected to secure seats on the non-profit board, according to Reuters sources.

Microsoft, owning 49% of OpenAI, pledged an investment exceeding $10 billion into the company. As of now, Microsoft has not responded to requests for comments.

Mira Murati, previously OpenAI’s chief technology officer and interim CEO after Altman’s removal, has resumed her role as CTO. Altman, ousted on November 17 without a detailed explanation, was reinstated four days later with the promise of a new board. Greg Brockman, the co-founder who had also left with Altman, is returning as president.

Altman clarified that he and Brockman jointly run the company, emphasizing their partnership. Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s chief scientist, will no longer be part of the board. Sutskever initially supported Altman’s removal but later signed a letter, along with other employees, seeking Altman’s return. Altman expressed appreciation for Sutskever and stated that discussions are ongoing about how Sutskever can continue contributing to OpenAI.

In addition to Altman, Brockman, Sutskever, and D’Angelo, OpenAI’s previous board included Tasha McCauley, entrepreneur; Helen Toner, director of strategy at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

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