Facebook has hired a well-known research scientist from Google DeepMind in the UK just months after the social media giant moved in over the road from DeepMind's London headquarters.
Artificial intelligence expert Edward Grefenstette revealed on Monday that he has joined the Facebook AI Research (FAIR) group after four years at DeepMind.
"I'm happy to announce I've joined @facebookai (FAIR) as as research scientist, working out of the London office," Grefenstette wrote on Twitter. "Get in touch if you want to chat about internships, PhDs, working together, etc."
Grefenstette could not be reached for comment.
The move from DeepMind to FAIR is interesting given the intense competition for the best AI talent between the two firms. Both companies are believed to be at the forefront of AI development.
The move is also interesting because it comes just a few months after Facebook announced it was opening three new offices within 100 metres of DeepMind's main base, which is located in Google's UK headquarters in King's Cross.
Grefenstette joined DeepMind in 2014 after DeepMind bought a deep learning startup that he cofounded at Oxford University called Dark Blue Labs. He left DeepMind in November 2018.
"I am thankful for the friendships and collaborations I formed along the way," Grefenstette wrote when he announced his exit in December. "I will miss many, many of my former colleagues, but am excited for my next adventure!"
Founded by AI pioneer Yann LeCun, FAIR is spread across the world and the London team has been growing quickly. Last July, Facebook acquired London AI startup Bloomsbury AI for an undisclosed fee. In the same month, Facebook said it had hired Oxford University professor Andrea Vedaldi to focus on computer vision and machine learning.
Six-figure salaries and attractive stock options are just a couple of the incentives that have been used to lure AI researchers from one tech behemoth to another.
Grefenstette isn't the only researcher to have left DeepMind recently. Jack Kelly, a DeepMind research engineer, announced his exit from the company on Monday. He has cofounded a non-profit company to "fix climate change ASAP".
Back in early 2016, DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis told The Guardian that no one had ever left DeepMind but there have been several exits in the last 12 months. It's likely that some of these people have reached the end of their earn-out agreements.
DeepMind and FAIR did not immediately respond to a request for comment.