After Sam Altman fiasco, Microsoft picks Dee Templeton as Its OpenAI board observer

Microsoft Corp. executive Dee Templeton has joined OpenAI’s board as a nonvoting observer, according to a person familiar with the matter, as part of a broader boardroom overhaul following the brief ouster of the startup’s chief executive officer (CEO) Sam Altman. Templeton has worked at Microsoft for more than 25 years and is the company’s vice president for technology and research partnerships and operations, according to her LinkedIn profile. She has already begun attending board meetings, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private matters. OpenAI and Microsoft declined to comment. 

Days after OpenAI’s board ousted Sam Altman as CEO in November, the startup agreed to reinstate him, replace all but one of its directors and give a nonvoting observer seat to Microsoft, its biggest investor. OpenAI’s current directors are Bret Taylor, the former co-CEO of Salesforce Inc.; Larry Summers, the former US Treasury secretary; and Adam D’Angelo, a holdover from the previous board and the CEO of question-and-answer site Quora Inc.

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Altman previously said a new board will be selected “fairly quickly.” He did not specify how many people will eventually be part of the group, but said it will be “significantly enlarged” from the current number. OpenAI has faced some criticism for not having any women on the initial board. 

Templeton joined Microsoft in 1998 as its first female technical employee at the company’s New Zealand office, according to her LinkedIn profile. In her current role, she reports to Microsoft’s chief technology officer and leads a team managing some of the company’s technical partnerships, including its work with OpenAI. 

The Information previously reported Templeton was one of the people in consideration for the board role.

Microsoft has committed to invest some $13 billion in OpenAI and integrated its products into its core businesses, quickly becoming the AI leader among big tech firms. But Microsoft, like other investors, was caught off guard by the OpenAI board’s decision to oust Altman. 

In late November, after Altman was reinstated, Microsoft President Brad Smith told reporters that the changes to OpenAI’s corporate governance “are giving us more confidence.” But in taking an observer position on the board, Microsoft could also add to scrutiny of its close relationship with the startup. US and UK regulators are examining Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI and whether it may violate antitrust laws.

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