FACEBOOK hired Michael Sayman for an internship when he was 17 years old, and gave him a full-time engineering job at 18. Now, the wunderkind is leaving for Alphabet’s Google. He turned 21 last week.
At Facebook, Sayman was a product manager who helped the social-media giant understands how his generation uses their phones, advising on experimental products for teens and helping executives understand trends. At Google, he’ll be a product manager for Assistant, a voice-based service built on the search engine’s giant database.
Assistant is a top priority for Google CEO Sundar Pichai. The Mountain View, California-based company is working to embed the tool across a range of its own products and on other companies’ devices, facing stiff competition from Amazon.com’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. Google confirmed on Monday that Sayman was hired for the Assistant team.
Facebook discovered Sayman, who taught himself to make mobile apps at age 13, because he was using the company’s developer tools for an iPhone application he created.
Ahead of his internship, the company flew him out to meet CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He brought his mom. Sayman was still wearing braces when he became one of Facebook’s youngest employees.
In a Facebook post confirming his departure, Sayman said 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 noted that Zuckerberg has been an “incredible inspiration” and “absolute pleasure to work with.”