Microsoft Hires DeepMind Co-Founder Mustafa Suleyman

Mustafa Suleyman. Image credit: Greylock Partners

AI push. Deepmind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman joins software giant Microsoft to lead newly created consumer AI division

Microsoft is determined to dominate the consumer artificial intelligence (AI) sector, as evidenced by the hiring of a leading figure within the AI industry.

In a blog post CEO Satya Nadella confirmed that Microsoft has appointed DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman as the head of a newly created consumer AI unit.

The move is significant, as Suleyman is a former employee of AI rival Google, and is one of the three three co-founders of London-based DeepMind back in 2010.

DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman. Image credit: DeepMind
DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman. Image credit: DeepMind

Microsoft AI

In January 2022 Suleyman had announced he was leaving DeepMind, which had been acquired by Google back in 2014 for $500m.

Suleyman had taken an extended leave of absence from DeepMind in 2019.

Mustafa Suleyman. Image credit: Deepmind
Mustafa Suleyman. Image credit: Deepmind

After leaving DeepMind, Suleyman and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman founded Inflection AI, a start-up backed by Microsoft and several prominent tech industry billionaires such as Bill Gates and former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt.

Microsoft is Inflection’s cloud computing provider, and is also a main backer of Inflection competitor OpenAI and provides Azure cloud services to that company as well.

Now Microsoft boss Nadella has confirmed that Suleyman, along with several employees of his Inflection AI startup, are joining Microsoft.

“…I’m very excited to announce that Mustafa Suleyman and Karén Simonyan are joining Microsoft to form a new organisation called Microsoft AI, focused on advancing Copilot and our other consumer AI products and research,” wrote Nadella.

Microsoft Copilot is built using technology from OpenAI, and is Redmond’s chief product to maintain its position in the consumer AI sector. Copilot can write emails, summarise documents and make presentations.

“Mustafa will be EVP and CEO, Microsoft AI, and joins the senior leadership team (SLT), reporting to me,” wrote Nadella.

“Karén is joining this group as Chief Scientist, reporting to Mustafa. 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.”

“Several members of the Inflection team have chosen to join Mustafa and Karén at Microsoft,” added Nadella. “They include some of the most accomplished AI engineers, researchers, and builders in the world. They have designed, led, launched, and co-authored many of the most important contributions in advancing AI over the last five years.”

“As part of this transition, Mikhail Parakhin and his entire team, including Copilot, Bing, and Edge; and Misha Bilenko and the GenAI team will move to report to Mustafa,” wrote Nadella.

“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. I’m looking forward to doing so with you.”

AI battle

The battle to control or establish a leading position in the AI sector has been fierce of late.

Microsoft for example has also partnered with other startups including France’s Mistral AI, against the backdrop of heightened regulatory scrutiny of its tie-up with OpenAI.

Meanwhile Google is also pressing hard in the AI sector, after Bloomberg reported this week that Apple was in talks to build Google’s Gemini artificial intelligence engine (Gemini) into the Apple iPhone.

In April 2023 Alphabet had merged its internal AI research team (Google Brain) with UK-based DeepMind, to create Google DeepMind led by another DeepMind co-founder Demis Hassabis.

DeepMind co-founder and chief executive Demis Hassabis. Image credit: DeepMind