Hiring Suleyman Extends Microsoft’s AI Lead

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Hiring Mustafa Suleyman, the DeepMind co-founder, is a coup for the tech giant’s ambitions. But regulators may be skeptical.

Mustafa Suleyman, wearing a dark top against a bright blue background that is featuring the logos of the World Economic Forum and The New York Times.
In joining Microsoft, Mustafa Suleyman is again going from running an independent artificial intelligence start-up to working at a technology giant.Denis Balibouse/Reuters

The heavyweight fight to dominate artificial intelligence just entered a new round. Microsoft has poached an A.I. pioneer just as Apple and Google discuss forming a united front to make up lost ground.

The latest maneuvers add serious firepower to Microsoft’s bid to lead in artificial intelligence. But they could lead to more regulatory scrutiny into the company’s deal making in this high-stakes sector.

Microsoft hired a former Google executive to run its consumer A.I unit. Mustafa Suleyman co-founded DeepMind, a British start-up that was acquired by the search giant in 2014 and became the heart of its A.I. push. He left in 2022 and started Inflection AI with Reid Hoffman, the LinkedIn co-founder, raising billions — including from Microsoft.

The tech giant also hired most of Inflection’s employees, including the chief scientist Karén Simonyan.

The hires are another big win for Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s C.E.O. When he took over in 2014, Microsoft was on the cusp of technological irrelevance. Nadella has rebooted it — one reason he’s been able to do the big A.I. deals.

Microsoft’s A.I. strategy is heavy on deal making. It has invested $13 billion in OpenAI and signed a partnership with the French start-up Mistral. Both start-ups are using Microsoft’s cloud computing platform to build their large language models. In exchange, the Windows maker is deploying their services in its own offerings.

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