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Microsoft & OpenAI to Be Investigated by UK Antitrust Regulator

The Competition and Markets Authority is the first prominent regulatory body to openly express concerns regarding the partnership between the two companies.

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has initiated the process of gathering information regarding the Microsoft-OpenAI partnership. It aims to determine if this partnership can be considered a merger and assess its potential impact on competition within the country.

Reviewing comments from various stakeholders is the initial phase of the information-gathering process, which precedes the formal investigation.

The CMA acknowledges that the collaboration between Microsoft and OpenAI is a comprehensive and multifaceted relationship. This partnership involves substantial investments spanning multiple years and billions of dollars and joint efforts in technology development. Additionally, Microsoft has been involved in influencing the governance structure of OpenAI.

As one of the largest investors and the exclusive provider of OpenAI's cloud services, Microsoft has played a significant role in the affairs of the startup. In November 2023, when Co-founder Sam Altman was fired by the board, Microsoft actively participated in resolving the resulting conflict.

During this time, there were discussions of Altman and fellow Co-founder Greg Brockman, who later left OpenAI in solidarity, joining Microsoft. The majority of OpenAI's employees, not happy with the composition of the board, also threatened to follow suit. As a result, OpenAI reappointed Altman as CEO, welcomed back Brockman, and provided the investor with a seat as a "non-voting observer" on the revised board.

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