Facebook is not tackling Google head-on with its new Graph Search, which scours the social network for people, places, photos, and interests shared with friends.
But it is competing very directly for Google for the best engineering talent in Silicon Valley, starting with the two leads of Facebook's Graph Search project, Lars Rasmussen and Tom Stocky.
Rasmussen joined Facebook in late 2010 after his last project at Google, a collaboration tool called Wave, got killed due to lack of interest. He'd previously overseen a big success, Google Maps, which sprang from a startup he cofounded that Google had acquired in 2004.
When Rasmussen first joined, he said his job description was a vague offer by CEO Mark Zuckerberg to "come hang out for a while." But by the summer of 2012, he was openly talking about his role in improving Facebook search.
His partner on the project, Tom Stocky, joined Facebook in July 2011 directly from Google, where he worked in product management. Hugo Liu, the chief scientist at Hunch, praises his "superb business acumen" on LinkedIn, where six colleagues have endorsed him for the vague yet laudable trait of "awesomeness."
He also worked at MIT's Media Lab, a hotbed of brilliant innovators.
According to Wired's Steven Levy, Stocky and Rasmussen ended up meeting every Friday to update Zuckerberg on the progress of the project, and came to oversee a team of 70.
A LinkedIn search, while not definitive, suggests that a large number of Googlers who worked on search have ended up at Facebook .
We've heard that Google has a standing policy of automatically making counteroffers to any employee recruited by Facebook. It apparently hasn't done enough to slow Facebook's search hiring.
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