Apple App Store Chief Phil Schiller Is the Latest Big Tech Exec to Join OpenAI’s Board

Schiller, who reports directly to Tim Cook, is set to join OpenAI's board later this year.

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Apple’s Phil Schiller is set to join OpenAI’s board. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In a sign that Apple (AAPL) and OpenAI are strengthening their relationship following an A.I. partnership announced at this year’s WWDC in June, a top Apple executive is set to secure a nonvoting board seat at OpenAI. Phil Schiller, Apple’s head of App Store and events who has been with the company for some three decades, will join the board later this year, as first reported by Bloomberg.

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At its annual developers conference on June 10, Apple revealed plans to make OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot available across its devices and integrated into its virtual assistant Siri and various writing tools. Now, with Schiller attending OpenAI board meetings, the iPhone maker will also be able to gain insight into the inner workings of the A.I. company—putting it on par with Microsoft (MSFT), a major OpenAI investor that also has an observer seat on the board. OpenAI declined to comment on the appointment, while Apple did not respond to requests for comment from Observer.

Given his longstanding ties to Apple and public appearances defending the company against antitrust criticisms, Schiller is not a surprising choice for the board role. In 2020, he was made one of Apple’s highest-ranking executives when he transitioned out of his previous role as chief of marketing and became an Apple Fellow, a position that reports directly to CEO Tim Cook and is given to Apple employees recognized for extraordinary contributions to personal computing.

A close friend of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Schiller first joined the company in the 1980s and has been steadily with Apple since 1997. His current responsibilities include leading the App Store and Apple events like the annual WWDC.

Apple is not paying OpenAI for their collaboration, per Bloomberg. In addition to its use of ChatGPT, Apple’s new suite of new A.I. features—known as Apple Intelligence—will see the technology used to generate emoji-like images, enhance writing options and aid drawing tools, Apple is also reportedly seeking out other external A.I. partners in Google (GOOGL), Anthropic and Perplexity, in addition to speaking with Chinese companies like Baidu (BIDU), ALIBABA (BABA) Group and Baichuan to enable A.I. on its devices in China, where Google and ChatGPT are not available.

Both Microsoft and Apple now have board seats at OpenAI

Schiller’s appointment will allow Apple to join the ranks of Microsoft, which has a nonvoting board role at OpenAI in the form of Dee Templeton, Microsoft’s vice president of technology and research partnerships and operations. Microsoft has been tied to OpenAI since 2019 and invested around $13 billion into the company in a partnership that provides computing power for OpenAI and integrates its technology into Microsoft products.

Besides giving both Apple and Microsoft an inside look into how OpenAI conducts business, the board seats give them security against any major surprises at the company. Despite being OpenAI’s largest investor, Microsoft in November was shocked to learn of the former OpenAI board’s brief ousting of CEO Sam Altman over claims that he wasn’t being candid. Microsoft secured a board seat shortly after Altman was reinstalled as CEO and OpenAI named a new board.

OpenAI’s current board consist of:

Apple App Store Chief Phil Schiller Is the Latest Big Tech Exec to Join OpenAI’s Board