Microsoft hires DeepMind co-founder to lead new AI division 

Suleyman will serve as CEO of the unit, Microsoft AI, the company said yesterday, while reporting directly to company CEO Satya Nadella.

March 20, 2024 02:08 pm | Updated 02:21 pm IST

Microsoft has appointed DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman to head its new consumer AI division. File

Microsoft has appointed DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman to head its new consumer AI division. File | Photo Credit: Reuters

Microsoft has appointed DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman to head its new consumer AI division that handles products like Copilot, Bing and Edge. Aside from Suleyman, the tech giant has also hired some employees from his startup, Inflection AI, including Karen Simonyan, who will fill in as chief scientist of the consumer AI group. 

Suleyman will serve as CEO of the unit, Microsoft AI, the company said yesterday, while reporting directly to company CEO Satya Nadella. “This infusion of new talent will enable us to accelerate our pace yet again,” Nadella said in a blog post.

In 2010, Suleyman had co-founded AI lab DeepMind, which was acquired by Google in 2014 and eventually integrated in April last year with Google Brain to become Google DeepMind. In 2019, Suleyman was placed on leave after reports emerged that Google and DeepMind had started an inquiry around complaints over him bullying staff. Google then hired Suleyman as vice president of AI product management and AI policy. In 2022, he left the company and went on to co-found Inflection AI. 

The startup, which was also backed by Microsoft and Nvidia, had released its conversational AI chatbot Pi. Since the news broke, Inflection AI has stated that it is planning to license its technology to Microsoft, and move towards working with business customers. 

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The consolidation from Microsoft is an attempt to keep its lead against competition from Google which is reportedly in talks with Apple to build Google’s AI model Gemini into the iPhone. 

“I’ve known Mustafa for several years and have greatly admired him as a founder of both DeepMind and Inflection, and as a visionary, product maker, and builder of pioneering teams that go after bold missions,” Nadella said in a memo to employees. “We have a real shot to build technology that was once thought impossible and that lives up to our mission to ensure the benefits of AI reach every person and organization on the planet, safely and responsibly.”

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