Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Noogler Poach — Google Nabs Top Maps and AR Engineer From Microsoft (Video)



Microsoft has lost one of its most well-regarded and creative engineers to Google. According to the software giant and the search leader, Blaise Agüera y Arcas will now be a Noogler — that is, a new Google staffer.

It is a decidedly big loss for Microsoft, which sources said tried mightily to keep him. Agüera y Arcas has worked on a number of key projects at Microsoft, including augmented reality, wearable computing, interaction design, natural user interfaces and, perhaps most significantly, on Bing Maps.

Google declined to comment, but the New York Times reported earlier today that he would be working on machine learning. Microsoft confirmed the move.

One source close to Microsoft said Agüera y Arcas had wanted to work on devices, but had not been moved there. Another noted that he had become frustrated by the confusion around the recent restructuring and search for a new CEO.

Agüera y Arcas was the co-creator of Photosynth, an innovative software that gathers photos into 3-D environments. He came to Microsoft in 2006 after its Live Labs unit acquired his Seadragon Software startup.

In a talk he did at the TED conference in 2007, a speech that got him a lot of notice in which he showed off Photosynth, he joked: “I never thought I would work at Microsoft.”

No longer, it seems, and now Agüera y Arcas has the vast and well-funded playground at Google to work in. He certainly can keep up.

According to his bio, he “authored patents on both video compression and 3D visualization techniques, and in 2001, he made an influential computational discovery that cast doubt on Gutenberg’s role as the father of movable type.”

Another fun fact: “According to the author, Blaise is the inspiration for the character Elgin in the 2012 best-selling novel ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette?'”

Here are his two TED appearances in 2007 (about Photosynth) and Bing Maps (2010), in which it will be abundantly clear that this is a big steal by Google from Microsoft:

(Photo courtesy of TED.)

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik