What happened: Facebook AI Infrastructure Director Jia Yangqing left the company earlier this month to join an Alibaba research affiliate in Silicon Valley as a vice president of engineering. A person familiar with the matter told China-based AI media entity, Synced, about Jia’s departure, which he later confirmed himself via an update to his LinkedIn account.
Why it’s important: E-commerce giant Alibaba is looking to enhance its AI fundamental capabilities such as deep learning for its enterprise-focused expansion, and Jia is well-regarded for his key contributions in this field. The AI engineer joined Facebook in 2016 and led teams of AI researchers and engineers in constructing a large-scale platform supporting different Facebook products including ads, news feed, and search ranking. Jia also created Caffe, a popular open-source deep-learning framework, while earning his doctorate at U.C. Berkeley. The job change comes as China-US tensions shift from trade imbalances to technology-related security issues. At least 100 Chinese students in the US reportedly experienced visa delays in 2018.