In September of last year, Google made a smart and obvious acquisition: reCAPTCHA, the service helps secure websites while at the same time helping computers learn to read old, scanned text. Google had reportedly been working on its own CAPTCHA solution, but found reCAPTCHA’s better, and were undoubtedly happy to welcome the talent behind it. Today, just seven months later, one of those key team members is defecting to Facebook.
Ben Maurer was a co-founder of reCAPTCHA and its chief architect. As he announced on his blog today, he’ll be joining Facebook’s infrastructure team. “With all the growth Facebook has seen comes unique challenges in scaling systems. I’m looking forward to working on this,” Maurer writes.
So why leave Google for Facebook? Well certainly, Facebook is getting a lot of buzz right now as a company that can potentially rival Google in the years ahead. Also, Facebook is not yet a public company, so the move probably makes sense for monetary reasons. Most importantly though, Maurer used to be an intern at Facebook a couple of years ago, so he’s returning home, so to speak.
And the Facebook he’s re-joining is undoubtedly different than the one he left. As the service approaches 500 million users, saying they have “unique challenges in scaling systems” is putting it mildly.
Meanwhile, reCAPTCHA (at least the technology) will live on. “It’s been over 3 years since we started working on the crazy idea of getting millions of people to digitize the world’s books in their spare time. I’m looking forward to seeing reCAPTCHA continue to grow,” Maurer writes.