Snap Poaches Top AI Engineer From Facebook

May 18, 2017 | 1770 Views

Facebook Inc. (FB), Alphabet Inc.'s Google (GOOG), Twitter Inc. (TWTR), and Snap Inc. (SNAP) are in a race to incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning into their social media platforms, and to meet that end the company behind Snapchat's disappearing-messaging app has poached a key executive from rival Facebook.

According to a report in CNBC, Hussein Mehanna, a Facebook engineering executive, left the company last month to join Snap as director of engineering. While at Facebook, Mehanna's team developed software to understand users' texts, among other things. He was seen as a star in the machine learning space, which is becoming an important part of Facebook's product push.

Snap's move on the executive comes at a time when it has been placing more focus on its own research group as a way to stay ahead of Facebook, which has been rolling out a continuous stream of copycat Snap products. CNBC reported that Snap has been increasing its staff in the research unit amid expenses that are skyrocketing. During the first quarter research and development costs came in at $805 million. That compares to $28 million in the year-ago March quarter. The rise in outlays were partly due to payouts to employees following on the heels of its initial public offering. Snap also increased its R&D headcount by around 260% during the quarter.

Evolving Technology

Artificial intelligence and machine learning isn't only the focus of the social media companies that view it as a way to create more relevant products that cater to the unique wants and needs of their customers, but it is garnering interest from investors who see it as the next evolution of technology. It's the reason billionaire businessman Mark Cuban said earlier in the month he purchased shares of Twitter and others in the AI field, including Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN).

In an interview with CNBC's "Squawk Alley," Cuban said firms specializing in AI are likely to experience better productivity and higher revenues off a smaller workforce, which should subsequently boost earnings. When Twitter reported better-than-expected results for its first quarter, it credited it to machine learning techniques. In a letter to shareholders, the company said recent improvements in how it uses algorithms had "increased engagement and brought people back to Twitter." Meanwhile Facebook was also touting its AI prowess, announcing last week it developed an AI-based tool that can translate languages nine times faster than its rivals. The social media giant is also using AI to combat fake news items that shows up in its news feed. Read More

Source: Investopedia