21-year-old Facebook prodigy Michael Sayman jumps ship to Google

29 Aug 2017

Google HQ, Mountain View, California. Image: Uladzik Kryhin/Shutterstock

Michael Sayman was hired as an intern by Facebook at the age of just 17.

Michael Sayman, who turned 21 last week, is leaving the Facebook fold after three years at the company.

At Facebook, Sayman acted as a product manager, advising on products for teens and young adults, and offering trend insights.

He wrote on Facebook: “I am very excited to announce that I will be joining Google next month. It was three years ago today that Facebook hired me as a full-time engineer.

“Having started at the age of 17, I can honestly say that I practically grew up at Facebook – and I couldn’t have been luckier to be surrounded by so many intelligent people who helped guide me during these teenage years.”

A child prodigy

Sayman will be joining Google to help manage Google Assistant, the company’s AI-driven personal assistant and voice-based search engine that engages in conversations with the user.

For Sayman, his curiosity around computer science and coding started early.

“Back when I was 12 years old, I wanted to learn how to build apps. I simply went on Google and would spend hours looking up videos and tutorials on programming, design and more.”

He hopes that the assistant will encourage young people to “explore the world of computer science in ways that were once considered impossible”.

Google Assistant up against stiff competition

Bloomberg reports that Assistant is top of the priority list for Google CEO Sundar Pichai, as the company faces down tough rivals such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri.

Pichai discussed his vision for how a typical Google Assistant interaction would unfold in a Forbes interview in May 2016: “You might tell Google, ‘What’s playing tonight?’ Today, because [of] our voice recognition and natural language processing, we understand that you’re probably talking about movies.

“You can imagine going a step further, over time. If I’m asking it on a Friday to have the context that maybe I want to watch with my family, and give you three movies you might like. I might then say, ‘Is Jungle Book any good?’

“Then I might ask it to pick up tickets. Then, the next day, I might pick up the phone and Google says, ‘It’s a few hours before the movies and your tickets are here.’”

Google HQ, Mountain View, California. Image: Uladzik Kryhin/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects