When the University of Washington’s computer-science department wanted to poach artificial-intelligence expert Carlos Guestrin from Carnegie Mellon, it turned to Amazon.com Inc.
The Seattle-based tech giant ponied up $2 million to fund two professorships: one for Mr. Guestrin, and another for his wife, who also works in the field. To seal the deal, Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos met the academic during a campus visit.
“[Mr. Bezos] is a very smart guy. He has a crazy laugh,” said Mr. Guestrin, now UW’s Amazon Professor of Machine Learning. “We got quickly into technical things: What was I working on in large-scale machine learning? How could I impact Amazon? What could this mean for the business of data?”