Satya Nadella in Davos: Microsoft CEO wants stability, good governance at OpenAI
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wants stability and good governance at partner OpenAI but is not concerned about the company's nonprofit structure, he said in Davos.
At the end of 2023, OpenAI went through a whirlwind situation that saw CEO Sam Altman leave the company, agree to join Microsoft as head of an AI team, and then rejoin OpenAI as CEO, along with a new board. In the midst of all that, it was revealed that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella had been mediating talks. It was suggested that investors of the company behind ChatGPT, namely, Microsoft, weren't happy with Altman's sacking, and wanted him back, a wish that was ultimately fulfilled. Now, Nadella has said that while he wants consistency and good governance at partner OpenAI, he's not worried about the company's nonprofit structure and doesn't want greater control over his partner.
“What we just want is good stability,” he said in an interview at Bloomberg House in Davos. “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 said his company, which received a non-voting board observer role at OpenAI following the surprise ouster and rapid return of CEO Sam Altman, isn't pushing for a seat on the board, as per the Bloomberg report. Under Nadella, Microsoft has pumped $13 billion into OpenAI, making it the startup's largest investor. The software giant also has overhauled its entire product line around the technology that underlies ChatGPT, a product Nadella identified as the “first AI product that we all could relate to.”
Yet, Nadella said Microsoft is not too dependent on OpenAI, noting that OpenAI relies on Microsoft for key parts of the technology it needs to create its products, and that Microsoft is also researching and developing its own AI programs apart from its partner.
“I feel very good about the construct we have,” he said about the partnership. “I feel at the same time very capable of controlling our own destiny.”
As the use of AI evolves enable new interfaces and new models for apps, Microsoft sees the opportunity to participate in hardware that takes advantage of the developments, he said.
Though Microsoft last week passed Apple Inc. as the most valuable company by market capitalization, Nadella isn't overly impressed with the milestone, which he called a “lagging indicator.”
“The last thing you want to do is to fixate on the stock price, which we know means nothing in terms of what happens tomorrow, especially in our industry,” he said. “Quite frankly the problem, in some sense, is for all of us whether we can bet it all on what comes next.”
(With inputs from Bloomberg)
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