Amazon Acquires Talent from Adept to Power Up AGI Team

  • Editor
  • July 1, 2024

Key Takeaways:

  • Amazon hires top executives from AI startup Adept, including CEO David Luan.
  • Amazon will license Adept’s technology, multimodal models, and datasets under a non-exclusive license.
  • Amazon plans to invest over $100 billion in expanding its AI infrastructure over the next decade.
  • The Federal Trade Commission is scrutinizing AI deals between large tech corporations and smaller startups.

Amazon is ramping up its development of artificial intelligence technology, hiring top talent from AI agent startup Adept and licensing the company’s technology.

Rohit Prasad, a senior vice president and head scientist who oversees Amazon’s artificial general intelligence unit, wrote in a memo to employees on Friday that the company hired Adept co-founder and CEO David Luan and “a few other deeply talented team members to our AGI team.”

Luan will oversee Amazon’s “AGI Autonomy” division and report to Prasad, he wrote in the memo, which CNBC obtained.

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Amazon faces fierce competition in AI as rivals Microsoft and Google rapidly add new features to their core products while also giving businesses more ways to access large language models in their public cloud offerings.

Amazon’s cloud unit has launched a range of AI services, including its own models, which are generally viewed as lagging behind the top competitors.

Amazon has also pumped billions of dollars into OpenAI competitor Anthropic, and it’s planning to overhaul its Alexa voice assistant with a new paid version that has generative AI capabilities.

Prasad, who previously served as a head scientist for Alexa, was tapped in August to steer Amazon’s development of AGI, or software that’s significantly more advanced than current AI and starts to approach human-level capabilities.

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Last month, Amazon announced Adam Selipsky, the head of Amazon Web Services, would be stepping down and succeeded by Matt Garman, the head of sales and marketing at AWS.

Microsoft hired Mustafa Suleyman in March, a co-founder of Google’s DeepMind, who went on to lead the startup Inflection AI. Microsoft also brought on several of Inflection’s top executives and is licensing some of its technology.

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The arrangement caught the Federal Trade Commission’s attention, probing whether Microsoft structured the deal to avoid antitrust review.

Adept was founded in 2022 by a group of former OpenAI and Google engineers. The company quickly attracted the backing of Microsoft and Nvidia and was valued at more than $1 billion in early 2023.

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Adept is a player in the burgeoning space of AI agents, which refers to AI tools that are equipped to complete complex tasks without human assistance.

The startup was reportedly developing an agent that can perform actions on a computer on the user’s behalf, like navigating webpages and logging data.

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As part of Friday’s agreement, Amazon will license Adept’s technology, multimodal models, and some datasets, which “will accelerate our roadmap for building digital agents that can automate software workflows,” Prasad wrote. Amazon is using the technology under a non-exclusive license, the company said.

David and his team’s expertise in training state-of-the-art multimodal foundational models and building real-world digital agents aligns with our vision to delight consumer and enterprise customers with practical AI solutions,” Prasad said.

Adept confirmed the move in a blog post. The company noted that developing its own AI models would’ve required more capital and said the Amazon deal will allow it to focus on building agents. After Luan and other execs join Amazon, adept will continue to operate as a standalone company.

Zach Brock, head of engineering at Adept, will take over as the new CEO, and Tim Weingarten will remain head of product. According to LinkedIn, Adept has around 100 employees, but Amazon said that around 20 employees will remain at Adept.

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Amazon has committed to investing over $100 billion in expanding its AI infrastructure over the next decade. This investment will primarily focus on growing its data centres, which are crucial for supporting AI development and deployment.

The company plans to build at least 216 new data centres globally to support its Amazon Web Services (AWS) and AI initiatives. The company expects to generate tens of billions of dollars in AI revenue within the next few years.

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This strategic investment aligns with Amazon CEO Andy Jassy’s vision, who has been actively promoting the integration of AI products across Amazon’s business segments. Jassy views generative AI as a potential growth driver, enhancing the company’s strengths in online retail, Amazon Prime, and AWS.

Despite these efforts, Amazon faces stiff competition from other tech giants like Meta, Google, and Microsoft, which have made significant strides in AI development.

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The recruitment of Adept’s executives and the licensing deal come amid increasing regulatory scrutiny of AI acquisitions and partnerships in the tech industry.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is scrutinizing AI deals between large tech corporations and smaller startups to ensure compliance with antitrust regulations.

For more news and trends, visit AI News on our website.

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Dave Andre


Digital marketing enthusiast by day, nature wanderer by dusk. Dave Andre blends two decades of AI and SaaS expertise into impactful strategies for SMEs. His weekends? Lost in books on tech trends and rejuvenating on scenic trails.

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