DeepMind co-founder investigated by law firm after staff complaints


LONDON — The fact about why DeepMind’s Mustafa Suleyman left the corporate he co-founded with childhood pal Demis Hassabis and New Zealander Shane Legg might lastly be popping out.

Suleyman’s departure from the Google-owned and London-based AI lab was introduced out of the blue in August 2019 with little clarification. “Mustafa’s taking some time out right now after 10 hectic years,” a DeepMind spokesperson stated on the time.

Many assumed the entrepreneur, an Oxford University dropout now in his mid 30s, would return to DeepMind at some point, however that by no means occurred. Instead, he took up an AI coverage function at Google in December 2019, leaving DeepMind watchers bewildered as to what brought about the change.

A report from The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, that cites individuals accustomed to the matter, claims that Suleyman had most of his administration duties stripped away from him in following complaints that he bullied staff.

Google and DeepMind confirmed to CNBC on Wednesday that DeepMind staff raised issues about Suleyman, and {that a} law firm was introduced in to research.

“With the assistance of an external lawyer we looked into concerns that were raised about Mustafa’s management style,” Google and DeepMind stated in a joint assertion.

“As a result, he undertook professional development training to address areas of concern, which continues, and is not managing large teams.”

The corporations declined to say what the unknown law firm concluded from its investigation and a DeepMind spokesperson stated it would not be acceptable for the corporate to touch upon confidential worker processes.

They added that Suleyman is now in an “individual contributor role at Google, where he makes valued contributions on AI policy and regulation.”

Suleyman didn’t instantly reply to a CNBC request for remark, however in response to questions from The Wall Street Journal he stated he “accepted feedback that, as a co-founder at DeepMind, I drove people too hard and at times my management style was not constructive.”

He added: “I apologize unequivocally to those who were affected.”

A lot of complaints had been filed to a member of the DeepMind evaluation board that was set as much as monitor DeepMind’s well being care work, in response to a CNBC supply accustomed to the matter, who wished to stay nameless as a result of non-public nature of the discussions.

In a quick message in September, Suleyman advised CNBC he was “back on Twitter” and splitting his time between London and California. He additionally stated he was “enjoying life.”

Google acquired DeepMind for a reported $600 million in 2014, simply 4 years after the start-up was included.

Following the acquisition, Suleyman was tasked with main DeepMind’s utilized AI division, which got down to discover industrial makes use of for DeepMind’s software program in the true world and throughout Google’s merchandise (Search, Android, YouTube, and many others). He additionally led the corporate’s ethics work.

He efficiently led a challenge that enabled Google to slash the quantity of vitality the cooling models in its large knowledge facilities use, however his talks with U.Ok. utility firm National Grid did not materialize.

Unlike Google’s bosses, Suleyman would not have a technical background. He studied philosophy and theology at Oxford University, earlier than dropping out to arrange a counselling service for younger Muslims. From there, he went on to work for former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, earlier than transferring on to arrange a consultancy observe referred to as Reos Partners that counted the U.N., the U.S. authorities, the Dutch authorities, WWF and Shell amongst its purchasers.

Some extra technically inclined Googlers see Suleyman as one thing of an imposter and never very “Googley,” a supply with hyperlinks to DeepMind, who needed to stay nameless as a result of nature of the dialogue, advised CNBC.

Many outsiders, nonetheless, view him as a passionate and considerate chief and he turned generally known as a liberal activist following quite a lot of public talks on how he needed DeepMind’s AI to sort out the world’s largest issues together with local weather change and well being care.  

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