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This article was published on May 31, 2023

OpenAI CEO teases European HQ ahead of fresh talks with EU

Time for another road trip

OpenAI CEO teases European HQ ahead of fresh talks with EU Image by: TechCrunch (edited)

Sam Altman’s turbulent relationship with European regulators has taken two more turns. The OpenAI CEO is reportedly set for further talks with the EU — and a new HQ on the continent.

Altman last sparked an uproar after criticising the EU’s AI Act. The 38-year-old threatened to withdraw OpenAI’s services over plans for the landmark legislation, which would force his company to comply with extra obligations. 

Following a fierce backlash from lawmakers, Altman made a swift U-turn. The ChatGPT maker was “excited to continue to operate here,” he tweeted, and had “no plans to leave.”

The charm offensive continued in an interview with Politico. “We really need an office in Europe,” Altman told the outlet. “We also just really want one.” 

Regardless of what he wants, the need is clear. Once the AI Act is passed, OpenAI will require a presence in the EU. But there are still chances to modify the regulation before it’s finalised.

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With that in mind, a pair of new additions to Altman’s calendar could prove significant.

The first is scheduled for this Thursday, when he’s due to meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels. The second is reportedly set for next month, when Altman and EU industry chief Thierry Breton will discuss compliance with the bloc’s impending rules.

Whatever the outcome, OpenAI’s explosive rise shows no signs of slowing down. New research from VezaDigital found that visits to grew by 54.21% in March to nearly 1 billion monthly users — the greatest leap among the world’s top 50 websites. The site jumped 33 positions in the global rankings within just two months.

As for the company’s presence in Europe, Altman said he’d pick France if the choice was purely based on AI research talent. But he added that he’s “been super-impressed by the talent and energy everywhere.” Impressing the EU lawmakers will be the next test of his flattery.

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