Amazon snaps CEO and all co-founders of AI startup Adept AI

Team von Adept AI aus San Francisco. © Adept AI
Adept AI Team. © Adept AI
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Just a few months ago Microsoft snapped up the founders of Inflection AI and sent the billion-dollar startup into obscurity. Now Amazon is doing the same with Adept AI, which received a big investment of $350 million in 2023.

It has now been announced that the co-founder and CEO of Adept, David Luan (also former Vice President of Engineering at OpenAI) will be moving to Amazon. His co-founders of Adept, Augustus Odena, Maxwell Nye, Erich Elsen, and Kelsey Szot, as well as several other employees, will also be moving to Amazon. The new CEO of Adept AI will be Zach Brock, previously Head of Engineering.

Adept will continue to operate as an independent company with the remaining employees and Amazon will use part of Adept’s technology under a non-exclusive license, according to current US media reports, including Geekwire. Amazon has fallen somewhat behind Microsoft, Google, and Co when it comes to AI and needs to strengthen its voice assistant Alexa, which is getting on in years, against ChatGPT and the like.

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Expertise in line with Amazon’s vision

Luan will report to Rohit Prasad, a longtime Amazon executive who leads a new artificial general intelligence (AGI) team developing large-scale language model technologies at the Seattle company. “David and his team’s expertise in training cutting-edge multimodal foundation models and building real-world digital agents aligns with our vision of delighting consumers and enterprise customers with practical AI solutions,” Prasad wrote in a note to employees.

Prasad said the Adept license will “accelerate our roadmap to building digital agents that can automate software operations.” Adept AI raised $350 million in a Series B funding round in March 2023, reportedly valuing the company at $1 billion.

Race to expand AI infrastructure

The Adept executives’ hires come at a time when tech giants are looking to partner with or acquire startups to keep up in the race to build out AI infrastructure and services. AI startups are also under pressure as they face high computing and labor costs without substantial revenue streams.

Amazon’s agreement with Adept mirrors Microsoft’s recent hiring of Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder and former CEO of startup Inflection AI, along with Inflection co-founder Karén Simonyan and other employees. Regulators are currently closely scrutinizing AI deals between big tech companies and smaller startups.

Why UX is broken – and how AI can fix it

Adept focuses on solutions for agent AI

In a blog post, Adept explained that continuing with the company’s plan to “develop both useful general intelligence and an enterprise agent product would have meant that we would have had to focus a lot of our attention on fundraising for our foundational models rather than bringing our agent vision to life.”

“Adept will now focus entirely on solutions that enable agent AI that continues to be powered by a combination of our existing state-of-the-art in-house models, agent data, web interaction software, and custom infrastructure,” the company said. “We look forward to continuing to pursue this vision and working with partners to integrate agent capabilities into their products and tools.”


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