Microsoft makes a big AI deal

Reddit IPO is a success, bizarre AI-generated images flood Facebook, and more...

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AI generated image of a big gorilla in a jungle surrounded by smaller monkeys.

Happy Monday!

I think we all know why Elon Musk cancelled Don Lemon’s show after one interview, despite poor X CEO Linda Yaccarino spending a lot of time and energy on setting it up and then not being looped into his decision to can it. Apart from someone like Tucker Carlson, there is undoubtedly one interview style that Musk would really prefer.

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P.S. Read to the end to marvel at the image of ‘shrimp Jesus’, and all the best reporting and resources from last week!

For anyone with us for the first time, welcome to Inbound News! Just 10-15 minutes every Monday to catch up on the previous week. I cover the stories that matter with smart analysis and resources to help make sense of all the noise. But always with a healthy dose of skepticism and self-awareness. 😉 

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🤖 AI

Microsoft poaches talent and models from AI rival

What happened: Microsoft has paid AI startup Inflection about $650 million dollars in exchange for hiring most of their key talent and licensing for non-exclusive use of their models. They announced the formation of a new organization, Microsoft AI. It will be focused on advancing its flagship Copilot product and other consumer AI products and research. The co-founders of Inflection will lead the new organization, with Mustafa Suleyman becoming its CEO and Karén Simonyan its chief scientist. Mustafa was one of the co-founders of DeepMind, the AI research laboratory bought by Google in 2014, which merged with Google Brain last year to form Google DeepMind in response to the challenge from OpenAI.

Why it happened: Microsoft had previously invested in Inflection. In addition to building its own foundation models that have now been handed over for Microsoft to use, it built its own chatbot called Pi. Earlier this month, it released its newest version and announced they had surpassed one million daily users. However, this pales in comparison to competitor OpenAI’s ChatGPT which attracted 100 million weekly users a year after its launch and now has over 180 million monthly users. Microsoft has also been investing billions of dollars in OpenAI and folding its technology into its products. But it seems to be shoring up its leadership position in AI by investing in top talent and technology in-house in addition to what they’re receiving from OpenAI.

Why it’s important: Microsoft has essentially obtained the best talent and use of their technology without having to formally acquire Inflection. The start-up will now pivot to acting as an AI studio to help enterprises fine-tune custom generative AI models. They will also be releasing an API to make its platform available for everyone, starting on Microsoft Azure. The $650 million was obtained to provide a decent return to the start-up’s original investors. Another co-founder of Inflection was Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn founder and current Microsoft board member, who will be staying on the company’s board. It will be interesting to see if antitrust regulators have a look at this deal. For people who would love to see healthy competition and innovation in AI, it sure looks like just another example of a handful of big tech companies doing everything possible to control the market.

fire destroy GIF

Microsoft CEO’s recent instructions… Source: Giphy

💫 AI quick bites

👍️ Social media

Reddit goes public with a bang

What happened: Reddit was the newest social media platform to complete an initial public offering (IPO). (Watch Snoo get ready for the big day.) Debuting at $34 per share, it received an immediate pop on the day rising to $57.80 before closing the day out at $50.44. It finished the week up 35% from the IPO price.

Why it happened: The IPO had been planned for more than two years. They actually filed for an IPO in December 2021, but delayed going ahead as the stock market cratered. Reddit had announced AI licensing agreements worth over $200 million over the next few years prior to the IPO. With the current AI craze, this undoubtedly helped juice its valuation. The Federal Trade Commission has launched an enquiry into these deals, so it will be interesting to see if that has any impact as its findings are released.

Why it’s important: Reddit is seen as a second or even third tier social media platform from a marketing perspective and its users are notoriously prickly in their responses to advertisements. It has a relatively low user base compared to its peers of 73 million unique daily visitors. Not coincidently, Reddit has never made an annual profit. It’s had success with content moderation by effectively handing this responsibility over to its users. The tension with relying on unpaid moderators came into the open with backlash prior to the IPO when the CEO’s $193 million compensation package was revealed. To try to quell dissent, it reserved 8% of the shares on offer to certain users, moderators, friends and family members of employees and directors of the company.

This is obviously not financial advice, but it’s hard to see how the stock can maintain its current valuation in the coming years. Having said that, no major shareholder has sold any stock for a profit yet. This includes its largest shareholder Advanced Publications, whose original $100 million investment is now worth $1.9 billion at the stock’s current price, insisting “Reddit’s best days lie ahead.” Considering Reddit is the home of the GameStop short squeeze of 2021 via its subreddit r/WallStreetBets and its users have been able to buy into the IPO, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens next.

Game Stop GIF by Bitcoin & Crypto Creative Marketing

Source: Giphy

⚡️ Social media quick bites

Meta (Facebook / Instagram / Threads)


  • New subscriber perks for live streamers have been added to help drive more subscriptions.

  • The Creativity Program is out of beta; officially introduced the new Creator Rewards Program, including a search metric for payouts.

  • New updates have been made to several ecommerce features.

  • Researchers examined the platform’s algorithm; and between 30% to 50% of the first 1,000 videos users watch are based on past interests.

  • Far-right political groups in Europe are posting the most and getting the most engagement on the platform.

  • The company spent $1.5 billion and upended US operations in the last couple of years in a failed attempt to appease lawmakers.

  • US Senators supporting the TikTok bill passed by the House insist it’s not referring to a ban of the app, but rather a “transition in ownership.”

  • North Carolina congressman Jeff Jackson has been roasted on the platform after his 2.3 million followers discovered he voted for the bill.

Twitter (X)



✍️ The best reporting last week

There’s a clear way to regulate social media

Self-regulation has failed: Anika Collier Navaroli and Ellen K. Pao describe their experience at Twitter and Reddit, and what is required for proper regulation.

Facebook Marketplace is a surreal nightmare

See the most unhinged listings: The only reason many of us bother with Facebook anymore, Thomas Germain from Gizmodo shows us his favorites.

How Instagram got its mojo back

Bouncing back from the brink: Katie Notopoulos from Business Insider outlines how Instagram beat out TikTok for growth in 2023.

X’s new video strategy is a pivot to nowhere

Going video-first by posting every other platform’s videos last: John Hermann writes for Intelligencer how X is repeating a popular playbook.

The shame of LinkedIn

Why it just feels so cringe: Emily Stewart from Business Insider swallows her pride and engages with several experts to find out why we feel like this.

🧠 Resources to level up

Gaining leads on TikTok

Grab this guide: In partnership with HubSpot, it outlines the platform’s lead generation options and best practices for success.

Make the most out of your Instagram collab posts

Ideas to boost engagement and reach: Kirsti Lang from the Buffer team walks us through everything we need to know about this important feature.

Avoid a content experience problem

You may not even know you have one: Jodi Harris from the Content Marketing Institute explains how to create an audience-centric content experience.

Add notability and transparency to Google’s EEAT

Establish credibility in the eyes of Google: Jason Barnard explains on the Search Engine Land blog how to incorporate these elements.

In partnership with Coachella: Pinterest released top fashion and beauty trends along with a curated board from celebrity stylists Chloe and Chenelle.

😲 Really?

‘Shrimp Jesus’ is a thing on Facebook

AI-generated horrors abound: It started with Jesus being formed out of sea life like shrimps, crabs and sea horses. Other popular images show artistic renditions of Jesus carved into sand or built out of wood and other materials. More recently, a crossover with female flight attendants from East Asia or young Black children have become common. The posters are gaming the algorithm, since Facebook rewards posts that garner many ‘Amen’ comments. The images have received hundreds of millions of engagements according to a new paper which studied 120 of these pages. Unsurprisingly, the creators are ignoring Meta’s rules of labelling AI-generated content on its platforms until it can implement methods to automatically detect and label such content. Worryingly, some users appear to be unaware the images have been digitally created. The ultimate goals are to redirect users to off-platform virus-laden content farms, to scam people with non-existent products, or to obtain their personal information. Legitimate pages have also been stolen and repurposed for this use, with at least one former page owner explaining Meta has ignored all their complaints.

Shrimp Jesus AI image from Facebookl

No, I don’t need to see this in 3D, thanks Facebook!

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