Altman Says He and Satya Nadella Are Nowhere Near ‘Frenemy Territory’

  • OpenAI CEO Sam Altman says he and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella are “nowhere near the frenemy territory.”
  • “We jointly want as much usage of our models as possible, so we’re super aligned there,” said Altman. 
  • The unusual relationship between their two companies has caused conflict in the past, per media reports.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman says that he isn’t frenemies with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

“I won’t pretend that it’s like a perfect relationship, but we’re nowhere near the frenemy territory,” Altman told the Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern on-stage on Tuesday during the WSJ Tech Live conference.

“It’s really good,” Altman said about his relationship with Nadella, while adding that the pair have their squabbles.

Stern did not provide context for her question about the pair’s relationship. Microsoft is investing over $10 billion in OpenAI, granting Microsoft access to advanced AI systems while backing OpenAI’s research. Microsoft’s Bing currently uses a customized version of OpenAI’s GPT-4.

However, the two companies’ unusual relationship has caused some conflict behind the scenes, per media reports.

Microsoft and OpenAI have clashed over how OpenAI’s model should be integrated with Microsoft’s Bing chatbot. Both companies occasionally pitch to the same customers, and Microsoft staff have voiced concerns over decreased AI investment internally, the Wall Street Journal reported in June, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

In September, the Information reported Microsoft was aiming to reduce its reliance on OpenAI for its AI models by developing its own model. Microsoft wants its in-house AI to be cheaper and smaller than OpenAI’s, the Information reported, citing an unnamed employee and an ex-employee.

On Tuesday, Altman said that the popularity of chatbots meant it was only natural that their companies would seek to offer competing alternatives — but added their competition was friendly. “We jointly want as much usage of our models as possible, so we’re super aligned there,” he said.

Altman even told Stern he and Nadella text “a lot.”

Altman, who cofounded OpenAI in 2015 with Elon Musk, has become Silicon Valley’s buzziest tech bro since the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November last year. The chatbot is expected to make the company $1 billion in sales by August 2024, per the Information.

Representatives for Altman and Nadella did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider, sent outside regular business hours.

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