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NextGen Competition Statement on Microsoft Quitting OpenAI’s Board; Apple Relinquishing Board Seat

This move is a “superficial fig leaf” to ward off necessary antitrust scrutiny.

Jul 10, 2024

After months of intense public pressure and regulatory scrutiny, Microsoft announced it was stepping down from OpenAI’s board of directors. While the Tuesday letter announced the move was “effective immediately,” Microsoft still maintains de facto control over the company with a 49% stake in OpenAI. Apple also reportedly will no longer take up a similar seat on the board.

The following statement can be attributed to George Rakis, Executive Director for NextGen Competition (

Today’s news serves as recognition that Microsoft knows its calculated and years-long pseudo-merger with OpenAI has landed it in hot water with regulators around the globe. While we appreciate Microsoft and Apple’s surprise departures from the OpenAI board, it does little to allay our concerns about Big Tech’s growing influence over artificial intelligence startups. Microsoft, Apple, and other tech giants have a history of offering superficial fig leaves to ward off regulators from further antitrust scrutiny.

The European Union recently found Microsoft’s ‘unbundling’ of its Teams and Office products to be inadequate, and European regulators are investigating Apple for malicious compliance with the Digital Markets Act. Microsoft has demonstrated undue control and influence over OpenAI on many fronts, from its 49 percent ownership and exclusive computing partnership to pushing the company to abandon its non-profit mission and playing a heavy-handed role in the re-hiring of Sam Altman after his ouster.

Surrendering an OpenAI board seat is the bare minimum Microsoft could do to ease antitrust concerns, and we hope the Federal Trade Commission, European Commission, and the UK’s Competition Markets Authority continue their robust investigations into Big Tech’s partnerships with AI startups, including with OpenAI.

About NextGen Competition

Our mission is to support a robust and competitive technology ecosystem by opposing anti-competitive business practices and promoting greater industry accountability. Specifically, we oppose consolidation in the industry that undermines worker protections and employer accountability, threatens data privacy and security, encourages market concentration, and limits consumer choice. NextGen Competition intends to work with a broad coalition of unions and public interest partners as it seeks to oppose anti-competitive business practices.