J.P. Morgan’s new AI chief begins recruiting spree with key Facebook hire

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Well that didn’t take long. Apoorv Saxena, J.P. Morgan’s new head of artificial intelligence and machine-learning services, has only been on the job for two weeks yet has already poached an experienced AI and big data engineer from Facebook to join his team. And he appears to just be getting started.

A former Google executive in charge of cloud-based artificial intelligence, Saxena started with J.P. Morgan on August 31, according to a memo viewed by CNBC. Roughly 10 days later, he took to LinkedIn to introduce his first hire, Yang Wang, a former Facebook engineer who developed AI applications and large-scale data products, among other projects. The two co-chair the AI Frontiers Conference, which Saxena co-founded.

The hire appears to be a bit of a coup for J.P. Morgan, which has now poached two high-profile names from Google and Facebook – tech giants that have used banks as a breeding ground of sorts for their own recruiting. As we reported last month, more than 220 people who list J.P. Morgan as a previous employer currently work at Google. Meanwhile, just 29 JPM employees count themselves as Google alums. The ratio is even worse when looking at Facebook (80 to 2).

Based out of J.P. Morgan’s Silicon Valley office, Saxena suggested that the hiring of Wang is just the beginning of an AI recruiting spree. “Many more to come soon!” he noted in his post. Wang, now an executive director with J.P. Morgan, was even more enthusiastic. “The revolution begins! We are hiring the best talents,” he wrote on his own LinkedIn profile.

The two hires follow the May appointment of Manuela Veloso, head of the machine-learning at Carnegie Mellon University, who was named the bank’s first head of AI research. They also follow the exit of various senior members of J.P. Morgan's artificial intelligence team, including that of Geoffrey Zweig to Facebook earlier this year.  Like other large investment banks, J.P. Morgan is investing heavily in artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. The firm has earmarked more than half of its $10.8 billion annual technology budget for new investments. Look for additional J.P. Morgan AI hires to come.

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