Facebook’s Boy Wonder Takes On Google Assistant

Michael Sayman, one of Facebook’s youngest employees, is leaving his position at the company for Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

According to news from Bloomberg Technology, Facebook discovered Michael Sayman at 17 when he was using the company’s developer tools for an iPhone application he created. They hired him for an internship and then gave him a full-time engineering job at 18. While there, the wunderkind was a product manager who helped Facebook comprehend how his generation uses their phones, as well as serving as an adviser on experimental products for teens and helping executives understand trends.

Now, at 21, he is leaving Facebook for Alphabet’s Google, where he’ll be a product manager for Google Assistant, a voice-based service built on the search engine’s database and a top priority for Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai.

Google is currently working to embed the tool across a range of its own products and on other companies’ devices but is facing tough competition from Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. And there have also been issues with Assistant: Earlier this month, some Android Wear customers complained that Google Assistant can only do Google searches on their watches, while in February, a report surfaced that some of the credit cards that work with Android Pay wouldn’t work on the Android Wear watches.

Sayman taught himself to make mobile apps at 13. Before offering him the internship, Facebook flew the wunderkind out to meet CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Sayman showed up with his mom, still wearing braces.

In a Facebook post, Sayman confirmed his departure and revealed that he taught himself to code by looking up tutorial videos on Google.

“On a personal level, I also see the Assistant as an opportunity for Google to lower the barrier of entry for kids/teens of all ages and backgrounds, to learn how to program — and encourage them to explore the world of computer science in ways that were once considered impossible,” he wrote.

Sayman went on to call Zuckerberg an “incredible inspiration” and an “absolute pleasure to work with.”


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