One of the "creative brains" behind Google Creative Lab, Ji Lee, announced today he will head to Facebook to become the social network's newest Creative Director.
The unexpected announcement came this morning at Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Lee was a featured speaker for Creative Mornings, a "monthly breakfast lecture series of creative types" based in New York, Zurich, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Facebook's latest talent-grab from Google underscores a series of high-profile acquisitions from its biggest tech competitor. Earlier this month, Facebook hired Google's director of corporate development, Amin Zoufonoun. In February, Facebook hired Alexandre Hohagen, the top Google executive in Latin America, according to The New York Times. In October 2010, The Times reported that "About 200 ex-Googlers are now working at Facebook," which some Internet critics contend is an understatement. According to one blogger who crunched numbers using LinkedIn profiles, "Of the 2,174 current Facebook employees with a LinkedIn profile, 378 cited Google in their work history, or nearly 1 in 5."
Still, Google is not going down without a fight. In Septemeber 2010, TechCrunch reported that Google offered one employee a whopping $500,000 cash bonus to stay for another year. (He took the Facebook offer anyway, TechCrunch noted.)
At Google, Lee was one of the creative forces behind the company's curious Labs program, which is "a playground where our more adventurous users can play around with prototypes of some of our wild and crazy ideas," according to Google. One writer termed the Lab as an "idiosyncratic venture in the best Google tradition."
Matt Monahan, (@NewCoSocial), a director at EpicSocial, a New York-based social advertising firm, broke Lee's departure from Google to the Twitter community with this brief exchange with Lee:
@PleaseEnjoy --> are you really moving to Facebook as the Creative Director? #rumors
Li's terse response:
Facebook's recent acquisitions of Google employees appear to be an attempt to beef up its strategy and its creative products departments. While details have yet to emerge, one thing seems to be clear enough: the talent war continues.
If your company is thinking of poaching an employee from a rival firm, check out this guide on snapping up talent.