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Elon Musk is hiring HFT quants and fintech engineers at his new AI startup

It's not just OpenAI and Anthropic tempting engineers away from the financial services industry. Elon Musk's upstart competitor, xAI, and its GenAI chatbot Grok raised $6bn last week at a valuation of $18bn, and has looked beyond just Deepmind while hiring.

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Ivan Smirnov is one of its most recent hires. He spent the last year and a half as a partner and quant researcher at a private trading firm in Dublin, and spent nine years before that at high-frequency-trading firm Susquehanna. Another recent recruit back in February was Nathan Ziebart; he spent the last six years at fintech unicorn Robinhood, where he was promoted three times from senior engineer up to principal. Prior to that, he was a tech lead for infrastructure at Palantir Technologies.

xAI has 18 open job listings, and getting in won't be easy. The hiring process involves four technical interviews; three one-on-ones and a team interview, which unusually asks that you 'deliver a 20-minute presentation on the most challenging technical problems you have solved.' Musk caught a serious amount of flack for how he handled the layoffs at 'The app formerly known as Twitter' when he first bought it, using lines of code typed to identify which engineers to fire. xAI seems to be taking more of a results based approach; perhaps he's learned his lesson, perhaps (since all applications are reviewed by the technical team rather than recruiters or Musk), not.

xAI also looks pretty competitive for pay. Two product engineering roles, in AI and data respectively, have a salary range going up to $500k. On the H1B Visa salary database, only one confirmed salary is visible: a member of technical staff earning a salary of $300k. Musk is also alleged to have tempted technologists in with promises of a nine-figure total compensation with equity offers of 1% in the company. At its most recent valuation, that claim looks to have been proven right much faster than expected.

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AUTHORAlex McMurray Reporter

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