Why did Siri’s co-founder leave Apple when Google’s AI chief took over?

Apple’s AI assistant fell behind while Tom Gruber was the head of Siri Advanced Development.

From the Information ($):

Tom Gruber, one of the original Siri cofounders, has left Apple, where he was recently the head of Siri’s Advanced Development group, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. Apple’s head of search, Vipul Ved Prakash, has also left the company… His departure comes as the Siri group is undergoing a major leadership change, with the announcement last week that John Giannandrea, the former Google artificial intelligence research and search chief who joined Apple in April, would take over the unit…

The Siri unit has [seen] considerable leadership turnover in recent years. Mr. Giannandrea took over the group from Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, who had assumed leadership of the unit in 2017. Before that Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services, oversaw Siri.

Underneath these executives, Siri is run by Bill Stasior, a search expert from Amazon that former Apple executive Scott Forstall recruited before he was fired in 2012. In addition to Siri, Mr. Stasior is tasked with leading Apple’s search team.

My take: Did heads get cracked, or did Tom Gruber leave when he felt Siri was in safe hands? I’m inclined to agree with the kinder analysis of the commentariat. But if Giannandrea delivers and Siri improves, whom do we blame for the years of Siri stagnation?

See also: The Information: Why Siri sucks.

5 Comments

  1. George Row said:

    I am sure that he and his fellow co-founders of Siri were handsomely rewarded when Apple acquired their company in 2010. The other two Siri founders left within two years.

    Gruber says that he is leaving to pursue “personal interests in photography and ocean conservation”.

    I would like to take that at face value and assume that he stayed around out of loyalty to his original work on Siri and is now happy that there is safe pair of hands, in the form of John Giannandrea, to whom he can entrust it.

    1
    July 19, 2018
    • Peter Kropf said:

      Hi George,

      I believe your view of the situation over “Heads finally got cracked.”

      2
      July 19, 2018
    • I like George’s view too. Makes me feel better about the whole thing. Any idea how long it will take to see results, now that Siri is in safe hands?

      2
      July 19, 2018
    • David Drinkwater said:

      I tend to agree with George. I do consider the possibility, though, that Gruber May have also elected to leave now because, with Giannandrea’s hiring, he may feel that his promotional path has been sealed or that his ability to drive and/or protect his brain-child’s development may be waning.

      Either way, I am sure Gruber is in a fine financial position to do what he wants for whatever reason.

      1
      July 19, 2018
  2. Gregg Thurman said:

    Why do have to blame anyone? It is what it is.

    2
    July 19, 2018

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