Meta’s AI Chief Says He Turned Down a Job as a Google Director in 2002 Partly Because of Low Pay

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This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Meta’s chief AI scientist, Yann LeCun, says he turned down a job offer for director of research at Google in 2002.

In a post on X, LeCun said there were several reasons behind the decision, including the size of the company and the compensation package.

LeCun said the salary was low, especially at a time when he needed money to support his teenage sons. Despite the low compensation, LeCun said “the stock option package would have ended up stratospheric.”

He also said the company had 600 employees and no revenue at the time. This meant the role would have involved many things other than research, including corporate strategy and management, he said in the post.

LeCun, who won the Turing Prize for his research in 2018, said he wanted to refocus on research in several areas, including machine learning. The deep-learning pioneer also said his family didn’t want to move to California at the time.

He added that if he’d taken the role at Google, he may have changed parts of the company culture.

In the post, LeCun said, “Had I joined, I think the research culture at Google would have been different. I might have made it a bit more open and a bit more ambitious a bit earlier.”

Critics have previously accused Google of being slow and overly cautious with its AI development.

The success of the Microsoft-backed ChatGPT reportedly raised alarm bells at Google. The company has since released competing products for several of OpenAI’s products, including its own AI-powered chatbot to rival ChatGPT.

Google representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

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