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Post: Microsoft hires ex-DeepMind co-founder to lead Copilot AI initiatives



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Microsoft on Tuesday announced the hiring of Mustafa Suleyman, a former co-founder of DeepMind, the AI startup acquired by Google in 2014. Suleyman will assume the role of executive vice president and CEO of Microsoft AI, directly reporting to CEO Satya Nadella.

During Suleyman’s time at Google, DeepMind established itself as a frontrunner in AI research; it also caught the eye of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who moved to counteract Google’s growth by founding the nonprofit AI lab, OpenAI.

“Microsoft has been strongly signaling that they consider AI to be a core strategy,” said Casey Ellis, founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Bugcrowd, a San Francisco, Calif.-based cybersecurity company. “The appointment of Suleyman doubles down on this.”

Suleyman departed from Google parent company Alphabet in 2022 to co-found and lead Inflection AI. Along with Suleyman, Karén Simonyan, Inflection’s co-founder and chief scientist, will join Microsoft as the chief scientist for Microsoft AI, accompanied by several other Inflection employees, according to a memo by Nadella.

The newly formed Microsoft AI group will focus on developing the Copilot chatbot, which is integrated into various Microsoft products, including Bing and Windows. The group will also oversee consumer AI products and research. Mikhail Parakhin, CEO of advertising and web services and head of the team responsible for Copilot, Bing, and Edge development, will join the new organization under Suleyman. Misha Bilenko, corporate vice president of Microsoft generative AI, will also be part of the group.

“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,” Nadella wrote.

AI executive shuffle

Inflection said it would continue with a new CEO, Sean White, who was the former chief of research and development at Mozilla, and said it is bringing its Inflection-2.5 AI model to Microsoft Azure and other cloud platforms. An exact date has not yet been announced.

“We are hugely proud of what we’ve achieved with Pi,” Inflection said in a blog post. “There will be no immediate changes to the service and we’re committed to ensuring that users get ongoing access to great AI experiences in the future.”

Suleyman’s move to Microsoft is part of a larger trend of high-profile shifts in the AI industry. SAP recently appointed Walter Sun, who’d been with Microsoft for 18 years (last serving as vice president of AI), as its new global head of artificial intelligence. At Microsoft, Sun developed Bing Predicts and was involved in creating Dynamics 365 AI for Market Insights, which helps businesses understand market trends and brand sentiment. He also played a role in introducing Dynamics 365 Copilot, utilizing OpenAI’s GPT-4 to aid in marketing efforts.

Sun’s work includes evaluating AI models for Dynamics 365 and researching effective AI prompts.

Copilot’s rise

Microsoft’s push into AI has been clear since announcing its partnership last year with OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT. The company has been integrating the Copilot generative AI (genAI) assistant throughout its product lineup to automate tasks, facilitate content creation, and boost productivity.

The integration of Copilot AI aims to automate various tasks and facilitate content creation, potentially saving users valuable time. By leveraging the capabilities of the genAI assistant, users can streamline their workflows and focus on more creative aspects of their work.

Microsoft recently introduced a Copilot assistant tailored for finance professionals looking to streamline repetitive tasks and expedite access to financial information. Through the Copilot interface, Microsoft’s key productivity applications, notably Excel and Outlook, are integrated with users’ existing financial systems, enhancing efficiency and accessibility.

Copilot for Finance is engineered to simplify audits by seamlessly gathering and reconciling data, automating communications and payment arrangements for collections, and speeding up financial reporting by quickly identifying discrepancies. The tool can perform multiple tasks in Excel, including the automated generation of reconciliation reports to ensure data accuracy.

Copyright © 2024 IDG Communications, Inc.

Lora Helmin

Lora Helmin

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