Meta A.I. Department Thins Out

Facebook parent Meta (NASDAQ:FB) has lost some of its top artificial intelligence scientists this year as the company continues its pivot toward the metaverse.

At least four prominent members of Meta AI have departed in recent months, according to reports. Between them, the scientists have published dozens of academic papers in world-renowned journals and made multiple breakthroughs that Meta has used to enhance Facebook and Instagram.

Karl Hermann, an AI entrepreneur who used to work at rival lab DeepMind, said the true figure could be more like half a dozen, adding that the company’s London AI lab had seen an alarming number of exits. “Meta’s London office just collapsed and they lost most of their [top] researchers in the span of six weeks,” he said.

Those who have left the company include Edward Grefenstette, a research scientist that led Meta’s efforts on a branch of AI known as reinforcement learning, who departed in February.

Heinrich Kuttler, one of Meta AI’s research engineering managers, left in recent weeks to join Inflection AI, a start-up set up by DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman and LinkedIn billionaire Reid Hoffman. Kuttler joined Meta in Jan. 2019 after spending over two years at DeepMind.

Another recent departure is Ahmad Beirami who left his research scientist position at Meta in January and joined Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) in the same role.

And last year, in December, Douwe Kiela left his research scientist role at Meta after spending five years at the company. He’s now head of research at AI start-up Hugging Face.

FB shares jumped $2.93, or 1.3%, to $225.29.