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Microsoft AI gets a new London hub fronted by former Inflection and DeepMind scientist Jordan Hoffmann

Date 09 Apr, 2024

Writen by Paul Sawers

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Microsoft has announced a new London hub for its recently unveiled consumer AI division. It will be fronted by Jordan Hoffmann, an AI scientist and engineer Microsoft recently picked up from high-profile AI startup Inflection AI, which Microsoft invested in last year.

The news comes some three weeks after Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella unveiled a new consumer AI division headed up by Inflection AI’s founders, which include Mustafa Suleyman, the co-founder of DeepMind, the AI company Google acquired in 2014.

At the time, Nadella said that “several members of the Inflection team” also joined Microsoft’s new AI unit (Bloomberg reported that most actually joined). We now know that one of those was Hoffmann, a former PhD student who joined DeepMind as a research scientist in 2020 before jumping ship for Inflection AI, after Suleyman founded the startup in 2022 and started poaching employees from DeepMind and Meta.

In a blog post today, Suleyman calls Hoffmann an “exceptional AI scientist and engineer,” and with Suleyman himself reporting directly to Nadella in the U.S., Hoffmann will take charge of the new London unit.

Suleyman noted that they will launch new job postings in the “coming weeks and months” to find fresh AI talent to join Hoffmann at Microsoft’s Paddington office, where they will develop new language models and associated infrastructure and tooling.

This also feeds into another recent announcement made in conjunction with the U.K. government, where Microsoft said it would invest £2.5 billion ($3.15 billion) in the U.K. over the next three years, which will include expanding its data center footprint and training “more than one million people for the AI economy.”

The U.K. is considered among the top-tier countries globally in terms of AI R&D investment, behind the U.S. and China, and with Google’s DeepMind also based in the U.K. capital, we could be about to see a major talent tug-of-war between two of the frontrunners in the race for AI dominance.

On a related note, Google DeepMind co-founder and CEO Demis Hassabis was recently awarded a knighthood for “services to artificial intelligence.”

TechCrunch reached out to Microsoft for comment on the scale of its U.K. AI hub, but the company said it wasn’t revealing any other details at present.

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