Giannandrea announced Monday, initially reported by The Information, that he would step down from his role amidst management changes at Google. He joined the AI unit in 2016 when Google merged its search and AI divisions. Following his departure, the two units will once again split.
Reportedly, Google is reorganizing its AI unit in order to improve its search unit, sell more mobile devices, and increase sales and adoption of its cloud-based AI services. According to the Information’s report, Ben Gomes, who currently runs search engineering will become the VP of search, and Jeff Dean, currently the head of the Google Brain unit, will step in as the new head of AI.
The New York Times (NYT) reported today that Apple swooped in and hired Giannandrea in a move to catch up to its rivals. He will report directly to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook. In recent years, Siri, Apple’s digital assistant, has fallen behind competitors’ machine learning and AI technology.
Google and Apple aren’t the only companies moving around leadership in their AI units. In a letter from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella last week, he announced a shake up to its leadership team in order to more rapidly advance its own AI capabilities.
As the industry shifts to tackle AI head on, both Google and Apple have made aggressive moves to embrace the technology. In May of last year Apple acquired AI and machine learning startup, Lattice, its third major AI acquisition in three years.
Also last year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told investors in its Q1 2017 earnings call, that machine learning and AI were fueling innovation companywide, citing its Google Cloud Machine Learning Group and open source library TensorFlow, and its open source AI project DeepMind. “I’m really happy with how we are transitioning to an AI-first company,” said Pichai.