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$10 Million Is The Going Rate To Hire An Autonomous Driving Expert

$10 Million Is The Going Rate To Hire An Autonomous Driving Expert

Sebastian Thrun is nicknamed the "father of self-driving cars," as his career in the relatively new industry dates back to 2007 at Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL)'s Google unit.

Thrun told Recode in an interview few people outside of Google took him seriously a decade ago and, CEOs of major American car companies didn't think he was worthy of their conversational time.

Since then, dozens of self-driving startups have popped up and then acquired by industry leaders, including Uber, which acquired Otto, a half-a-year-old company with 70 employees, for nearly $700 million.

"These are mostly talent acquisitions," Thrun told Recode. "The going rate for talent these days is $10 million."

Related Link: Mobileye's Technology Not Suited For Autonomous Driving

Thrun added that companies are "desperate" for talent, and the skill set involved to building a self-driving car "is a multidisciplinary skill set [and] that broad skill set is just not there."

Vindication For Poaching?

This explains why major players, including Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Google and Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) are constantly poaching top talent from each other. According to Thrun, there is only one machine learning program in the planet at Carnegie Mellon and the university isn't churning out talent fast enough.

To help void the knowledge gap, Thrun created Udacity, an online learning site that offers a self-driving "nanodegree" program. Udacity has teamed up Mercedes-Benz and China's Didi Chuxing, among others, to offer higher education programs.

"It's a very simple instance of a law that is fundamentally true: Technology is moving so fast, that by definition when something becomes hot, the skill set doesn't exist," Thrun said.

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