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This is Big Tech’s playbook for swallowing the AI industry

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A couple of months ago, I was sitting in the audience at a tech conference in San Fransisco watching Bloomberg’s Emily Chang interview Reid Hoffman.

She asked about Microsoft’s hiring of the team behind Inflection, a would-be OpenAI competitor that Hoffman co-founded. It was an acquisition in everything but name, clearly designed to avoid the scrutiny of antitrust regulators. Not only had Microsoft (where Hoffman is a board member) hired most of Inflection’s employees — it also licensed the startup’s technology in a way that seemed designed to make its investors whole.

Speaking with Chang that day onstage, Hoffman predicted that what happened to Inflection will become a “pattern” for future AI deals. We are seeing that pattern play out…

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