OpenAI has enlisted the expertise of former Twitter India head, Rishi Jaitly, as a senior advisor to facilitate discussions with the Indian government on AI policy, according to exclusive information obtained by TechCrunch. Jaitly is reported to be assisting OpenAI in navigating India’s policy and regulatory landscape and is actively involved in helping establish connections for the organization in the country. While OpenAI currently lacks an official presence in India, it has shown interest, evident from co-founder and CEO Sam Altman’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to New Delhi in June.
Although it remains unclear if Jaitly is formally employed by OpenAI, sources suggest that he assumed his advisory role following Altman’s visit to New Delhi. Jaitly, previously the head of the public-private partnership for Google in India, joined Twitter in 2012 and later became the VP for the APAC and MENA region. His experience and insights are expected to be instrumental in OpenAI’s efforts to navigate the Indian market.
OpenAI, which recently experienced leadership changes with Altman and board president Greg Brockman temporarily leaving and subsequently returning with a revamped board, is now focused on establishing a foothold in India. The company is reportedly considering India as a key market, with plans to explore opportunities and grow its presence in the country.
India, being the world’s most populous country and the second-largest internet market, presents a significant growth opportunity for OpenAI. Altman expressed admiration for India’s embrace of AI during his visit to the engineering college IIIT Delhi in June. However, OpenAI has not made any official investments in the country, apart from securing a trademark.
Despite India’s AI startup ecosystem raising around $4 billion, there are concerns about the country lagging behind global competitors due to funding disparities. Critics argue that India’s AI development is still in its early stages, with only a few startups, such as Sarvam, making strides in building foundational models.
OpenAI’s engagement with India comes at a time when the company is looking to overcome leadership challenges and pursue a bolder commercial push. While the regulatory landscape for AI in India is not expected to be overly restrictive, OpenAI’s focus on understanding and actively participating in the evolving regulatory environment is seen as a crucial step in its strategic approach to the Indian market. The company’s interest in India aligns with the nation’s commitment to leveraging AI for real-life use cases, as highlighted by India’s IT Minister of State Rajeev Chandrasekhar.