The metavers-onal touch | Zuckerberg is personally emailing Google employees in a bid to recruit AI talent

Zuckerberg is personally emailing Google employees in a bid to recruit AI talent

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has taken an unusual move in the hunt for AI talent, by directly emailing Google DeepMind employees about joining his company.

According to a report from The Information, at least two individuals have seen emails authored by Zuckerberg himself, sent to the AI researchers.

In the emails, Zuckerberg reportedly explains the importance of AI to Meta and implores them to join Meta to work with him on the company’s AI projects.

But Meta’s outlandish acquisition strategy doesn’t stop with the personal touch. The Information reports Meta is defying typical recruitment standards by making offers to candidates without conducting any interviews.

The tech giant is not just rewriting the recruitment rulebook. It’s also revoking historic retention policies, attempting to keep candidates with job offers from other AI firms by counteroffering higher pay packages.

Zuckerberg has been bullish about Meta’s ambition to be a key player in the AI space. Whilst the company will continue to focus on its metaverse projects, it will also invest heavily in AI.

The big tech AI talent battle

The battle for AI talent won’t be easy, and drastic measures like Zuckerberg’s personally penned emails are becoming commonplace.

“We’re used to there being pretty intense talent wars,” Zuckerberg previously told the Verge. “But there are different dynamics here with multiple companies going for the same profile, [and] a lot of VCs and folks throwing money at different projects, making it easy for people to start different things externally.”

His comments hint that with AI talent in scarce supply, the big tech companies must break their own rules – as well as typical recruitment practices – to secure the most valuable candidates.

Zuckerberg even used the interview with the Verge as a platform to pitch to possible candidates. “We’ve come to this view that, in order to build the products that we want to build, we need to build for general intelligence,” he says. “I think that’s important to convey because a lot of the best researchers want to work on the more ambitious problems.”

Investment in AI appears to be a valuable tool for attracting and retaining talent. Aravind Srinivas, Founder and CEO of Perplexity AI, revealed in a podcast interview in March that his attempts to hire a senior AI researcher from Meta were rebuffed: “You know what they said? ‘Come back to me when you have 10,000 H1 GPUs.’”

Zuckerberg used his interview with the Verge to signal Meta’s investment in AI, stating that Meta would own over 340,000 Nvidia H100 GPUs – the chip of choice among big tech companies used to power AI models – by the end of 2024.

Other big tech companies have also resorted to out-of-the-box tactics for talent recruitment and retention. The Information also reports Sergey Brin, a Google co-founder, personally called an employee who was considering joining competitor OpenAI and offering the employee a pay rise to stay.

Microsoft’s move to hire the co-founders and staff of Inflection, an AI start-up, has also drawn attention. Rather than a full-blown acquisition – for which it would have needed to notify regulators of plans for a merger – Microsoft says it has hired Inflection staff, but the business will remain independent.

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