Matthew Zeiler was one of the most sought-after AI engineers in the tech industry after receiving his PhD from New York University in 2013. He was courted by everyone from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to executives at Google. But Mr. Zeiler passed on the offers and launched his own startup, Clarifai, with $10 million from Google Ventures, Nvidia, Qualcomm and others.
Four years later, the 31-year-old Mr. Zeiler’s company is a textbook case of the management challenges facing a young engineer in running a company. Half a dozen key business and technical executives have quit this year, some just months after joining, amid differences with Mr. Zeiler about the company’s strategic direction.