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Microsoft just stepped up its AI game against Google — by hiring the cofounder of Google's DeepMind

Mustafa Suleyman, the CEO of Inflection.
Mustafa Suleyman, the cofounder of Google's DeepMind and ex-CEO of Inflection AI, will be CEO of Microsoft's consumer AI division. DeepMind
  • Mustafa Suleyman, cofounder of Google's DeepMind, is now CEO of Microsoft's AI division.

  • The well-known AI leader will oversee Microsoft consumer products like Copilot, Bing, and Edge.

  • It's OpenAI investor Microsoft's latest move in the fight for artificial intelligence supremacy.

Like many Big Tech names, Microsoft has been battling for supremacy in the fast-evolving AI field. Its latest move: hiring Mustafa Suleyman, a key figure in the field thanks to cofounding DeepMind — now competitor Google's AI division.

In social media posts on Tuesday, Suleyman said he's taking on the role of CEO of Microsoft AI, leading all consumer AI products and research, including Copilot, Bing, and Edge.

According to Bloomberg, Suleyman will report directly to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. It's the first time one leader will oversee Microsoft's consumer AI products.

"We want to make sure that this next wave is one that for the consumer Microsoft can really, really create incredible products," Suleyman told Bloomberg.

Microsoft's hire of the well-known AI leader appears to be part of an effort to bolster its strategy outside its ongoing partnership with OpenAI. Last January, Microsoft announced it was pumping $10 billion into the ChatGPT maker to create the best AI products. It also tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to hire OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in November last year after he was briefly ousted from the company.

The move steps up its competition with Google, which Suleyman left in 2022. The Alphabet division has been pushing ahead in AI — despite some snafus. Gemini, Google's rival to ChatGPT, has come under attack after people complained its image generation feature produced historically inaccurate photos of US presidents. Still, Google grabbed headlines this week after Bloomberg reported it's in talks with Apple to integrate Gemini into the iPhone.

After leaving Google, Suleyman has been running his startup, Inflection AI, since February 2022. Karén Simonyan, Inflection's cofounder, will join Microsoft's AI division as Chief Scientist, Suleyman said, and several teammates he didn't name will also join.

Inflection will now stop running its AI chatbot, Pi — a smaller rival to ChatGPT — and instead sell AI software to businesses, Bloomberg reported. Microsoft told Bloomberg it will continue to provide Inflection with compute power to build its AI models, which the software giant noted will be part of its software.

Microsoft and Inflection AI didn't immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment before publication.

"We congratulate Mustafa and Karén on their new roles and look forward to working with them," an OpenAI spokesperson told Bloomberg.

Suleyman's journey from confounding DeepMind in 2010 to Microsoft has not been smooth sailing, however. DeepMind was sold to Google in 2014, with Suleyman becoming a well-known figurehead in the AI industry. But a 2021 BI investigation found that Google employees had complained to human resources and higher-ups about his behavior for years. Anonymous employees told BI that Suleyman would scream at people, humiliate them, set "unrealistic expectations," and "gossip" about firing specific people at the company. Others recalled seeing colleagues crying after meetings with him. In a statement through his personal lawyers at the time, he said he apologized "unequivocally" to those affected.

A year later, Suleyman left Google to join venture capital firm Greylock Partners. When asked about his "aggressive management style" during a podcast interview, he also apologized for his behavior, saying that he "really screwed up."

"I remain very sorry about the impact that that caused people and the hurt that people felt there," he said in the interview posted on the VC's website.

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