Microsoft consolidate power by acquiring Inflection’s Mustafa Suleyman

March 21, 2024
AI Microsoft

DeepMind co-founder and Inflection AI CEO Mustafa Suleyman has joined the Microsoft Copilot team. 

The move comes less than a year after Inflection raised $1.3 billion, with Microsoft as the lead investor, to build “more personal AI.” 

Now, as TechCrunch humorously reports, “Microsoft announced that it was feasting on Inflection’s body and sucking the marrow from the bones (though I think they phrased it differently).”

Suleyman, known for co-founding Google’s DeepMind, will serve as EVP and CEO of Microsoft AI. In an internal memo, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella praised Suleyman as “a visionary, product maker, and builder of pioneering teams that go after bold missions.”

“I am excited for them to contribute their knowledge, talent, and expertise to our consumer AI research and product making,” Nadella stated in a Microsoft blog post.

Suleyman is bringing several key Inflection team members with him, including Karén Simonyan as Chief Scientist. Simonyan co-founded Inflection and is renowned for leading “the development of some of the biggest AI breakthroughs over the past decade including AlphaZero.”


The fate of Inflection itself is less certain. In a blog post, Co-founder Reid Hoffman and new CEO Sean White vowed to attempt to pivot the company to “an AI studio business, where custom generative AI models are crafted, tested and fine tuned for commercial customers.” 

Some are questioning Microsoft’s motives, who have now secured connections with virtually all the generative protagonists except Anthropic. Indeed, Inflection brings with them some 22,000 Nvidia H100s, which some speculate will end up in Microsoft’s hands.

Suleyman has also been criticized as one of the technology’s more visionary futurists since his 2023 book “The Coming Wave,” which also mentioned how his leadership was suited to Inflection. 

One commenter on Suleyman’s X post regarding his change of position quipped, “Don’t you have a startup to run? That you founded? That you are super excited about? That you left Google for… Because big companies move too slowly? This is literally from your book.”

Microsoft holds the aces

Microsoft is now leagues ahead of rival Google in the AI race. Just imagine how powerful they would be if they’d captured OpenAI’s employees after the dramatic 2023 leadership debacle that saw Sam Altman fired and rehired. 

Meanwhile, Google has struggled with missteps around its Gemini AI, which altered the race of historical figures and has generally shown lackluster performance and uptake.

As for Inflection’s $1.3 billion dream of more personal AI, it seems to have evaporated almost overnight. 

The company’s rapid demise underscores both the intense competition and consolidation in the AI space and the power of Big Tech players like Microsoft to make or break even the most well-funded startups. 

Whether Inflection can reinvent itself remains to be seen – but its most valuable assets have clearly been subsumed into Microsoft’s ever-growing AI empire.

Is there a “third way?”

As major tech players like Microsoft and Google compete for dominance in the AI space, Anthropic has emerged as a well-funded third way.

Founded by OpenAI alums Dario Amodei, Chris Olah, and others, Anthropic has attracted huge investments from various backers.

In addition to Dustin Moskovitz, Eric Schmidt, and the Center for Emerging Risk Research, Anthropic is backed by Amazon, which plans to invest up to $4 billion, and Google, which is looking to invest up to $2 billion. So, Anthropic isn’t completely unaligned or ‘independent.’

Moreover, while the company’s commitment to responsible AI development has earned praise from some quarters, whether profit-driven tech giants will fully embrace this approach remains to be seen. Though, safety principles can be warped when money is on the table. 

Big Tech will seize control of AI startups at all costs. It’s hard to envisage the bigger AI players not rolling up smaller fish or at least reeling in their CEOs at the cost of the startups they pledged to build.

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Sam Jeans

Sam is a science and technology writer who has worked in various AI startups. When he’s not writing, he can be found reading medical journals or digging through boxes of vinyl records.

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