Microsoft‘s top executives appeared to distance themselves from OpenAI on Thursday during the software giant’s annual shareholder meeting, telling investors its strategy doesn’t rely solely on the startup.
AI was a major focus of questions from Microsoft investors during the event. The company has emerged as a leader in generative AI and much of that is thanks to its OpenAI partnership and a major investment in the startup.
OpenAI suddenly became a less reliable partner in late November, though. The board fired CEO Sam Altman and most employees threatened to leave. That put the future of the startup in doubt and sparked unease among developers and other businesses that use OpenAI’s platform.
In the end, OpenAI rehired Altman, and the employees stayed, but the episode sowed doubts about whether the startup can really be relied upon as the next big tech platform.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that, while its OpenAI partnership has given the company a “leading frontier model,” it’s working on internal AI projects, such a language model called Phi, and offering open-source models on Azure, including Mistral, Llama, and Cohere.
“The approach we are always going to take is a broad tent approach,” Nadella said.
As Business Insider recently reported, the chaos at OpenAI caused some partners to start looking for a “plan B” for their AI model needs. The episode has made open-source models look relatively more attractive because those AI alternatives don’t rely on a single company that could suddenly lose all its employees.
“We want developers to be able to come to our platform and be able to experience the best of what the partners of the world have to offer,” Hood said. “It’s terrific for companies of all sizes to be able to come to us and have the confidence they are going to the platform that always has the most innovative choices.”
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