Nov 21, 2023

“Acquisition By Another Name”: Professor Emeritus Steve Weber Reflects on OpenAI’s Ousting of Sam Altman

From Axios (Paywall)

AI may have lost its poster boy in D.C.

By Maria Curi and Ashley Gold

OpenAI’s ousting of Sam Altman, if it holds, could put lawmakers racing to regulate AI on notice.

Why it matters: Altman made his presence on Capitol Hill known to ensure that his view of the technology — optimistic yet wary of existential threats — was represented in regulatory discussions. That approach also aligned with OpenAI’s business interests...

Plus, there’s always an antitrust angle: “I’m sure all of OpenAI's employees are very thankful than noncompetes are unenforceable in California,” an FTC official who asked not to be named told Axios.

  • Investments Microsoft has made in OpenAI with Azure Cloud credits and its lock on much of OpenAI’s intellectual property amount to “acquisition by another name,” Steve Weber, a professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Information, told Axios.
  • “Microsoft is setting up the ultimate AI antitrust heist: a de facto acquisition of a company in which it previously had a minority stake,” Weber said. 
  • “The walled garden that Microsoft is trying to build is the enemy both of AI innovation and AI safety — and regulators should be paying very close attention to the alarming competition policy implications of such a move...”


Steven Weber is a professor emeritus of the I School, retiring in 2021. He previously served as the faculty director at the Center for Long Term Cybersecurity (CLTC).

Last updated:

November 27, 2023