The Microsoft-Google rivalry is heating up once again as senior Microsoft engineer Blaise Agüera y Arcas jumps ship to go work at Google. Agüera y Arcas was involved on a variety of project at Microsoft, but was a key figure on Bing Maps and Microsoft’s panorama-generating Photosynth software. Anonymous commenters stated that he was going to Google to work on machine learning.
Microsoft has reacted aggressively to losing high profile employees to Google in the past, specifically the incident with Kai-Fu Lee. Google hired Mr. Lee, a Microsoft VP at the time, to run one of their facilities, which resulted in Microsoft filing a lawsuit that was settled in 2005. Testimonies from that lawsuit uncovered a now popular recollection from engineer Mark Lucovsky, who alleged that Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer threw a chair across the room after Mr. Lucovsky told him he was quitting to join Google.
Agüera y Arcas joined Microsoft in 2006 with the acquisition of his Seadragon Software startup, and gained some fame when he hosted a TED talk on Photosynth in 2007 regarding the translation of 2-D images to 3-D. A Microsoft spokesman stated that “he was a great colleague and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”