Inflection AI Pivots as CEO Mustafa Suleyman Joins Microsoft to Lead New AI Division

Inflection AI Pivots as CEO Mustafa Suleyman Joins Microsoft to Lead New AI Division

In a strategic move that has taken many in the AI industry by surprise, Microsoft has announced the appointment of Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of DeepMind and Inflection AI, as the new Executive Vice President and CEO of Microsoft AI. This newly formed division will spearhead the tech giant's consumer AI efforts, including the development of Copilot, Bing, and Edge.

First some essential background...

Inflection is a well funded startup founded in 2022 by Karen Simonyan, Mustafa Suleyman and Reid Hoffman. In fact, just 9 months ago, the startup raised $1.3 billion to develop their "personal AI". Microsoft was the largest investor and the company was valued at a staggering $4 billion at the time.

The company had ambitious plans for their conversational AI assistant named Pi that could engage in natural conversations across multiple platforms while maintaining a sense of continuity and personalization. However, despite the substantial funding, Pi struggled to keep pace with the rapid advancements in AI technology from competitors such as OpenAI, Google's Gemini, and Anthropic.

Today's announcement sees co-founders Mustafa Suleyman and Karén Simonyan joining Microsoft. Reid Hoffman and newly appointed CEO Sean White will attempt to salvage what remains of the company, focusing on an "AI studio business" that aims to craft, test, and fine-tune custom generative AI models for commercial customers.

Suleyman, who brings with him a wealth of experience and a track record of pioneering work in the field of artificial intelligence, will report directly to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Karén Simonyan will assume the role of Chief Scientist within the Microsoft AI group. A number of Inflection AI's talented engineers and researchers transitioning to Microsoft to contribute their expertise to the company's consumer AI research and product development.

The formation of Microsoft AI comes at a critical juncture in the rapidly evolving AI landscape. As Nadella emphasized in an email to staff, "We are in Year 2 of the AI platform shift and must ensure we have the capability and capacity to boldly innovate." He further underscored the significance of this moment, stating, "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."

As part of Microsoft's organizational changes, Mikhail Parakhin and his team, including Copilot, Bing, and Edge, will move to report to Suleyman. Misha Bilenko and the GenAI team will also join the Microsoft AI organization, further bolstering its research and development capabilities.

Kevin Scott will continue in his role as CTO and EVP of AI, overseeing all-up AI strategy, partnerships, and cross-company orchestration. Rajesh Jha will remain EVP of Experiences & Devices, working closely with Suleyman and his team to build out Copilot for Microsoft 365.

The addition of Suleyman and the Microsoft AI team is expected to accelerate the company's pace of innovation in the consumer AI domain. However, Microsoft's partnership with OpenAI remains a cornerstone of its AI strategy, with plans to continue building AI infrastructure and products on top of OpenAI's foundation models. Last year, Microsoft briefly hired ousted OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and President Greg Brockman, to lead "a new advanced AI research team".

Microsoft Hires Ousted OpenAI Leaders Altman and Brockman for New AI Team
Brockman shared on X that the initial leadership team will include senior researchers Jakub Pachocki, Aleksander Madry and Szymon Sidor, who quit OpenAI on Friday in solidarity.

There is certainly a lot more to this story that will come to fore in the coming days and weeks. However, ultimately, Microsoft's hiring of Suleyman and the formation of Microsoft AI signal the importance of AI to the company's future and reinforces its commitment to leading in the AI space.

Chris McKay is the founder and chief editor of Maginative. His thought leadership in AI literacy and strategic AI adoption has been recognized by top academic institutions, media, and global brands.

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