Apple executive Ian Goodfellow, leaves the company due to its return-to-work policy to join Alphabet Inc.’s DeepMind unit. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman broke the news.
Goodfellow Leaves Apple for Google
Ian Goodfellow oversaw machine learning and artificial intelligence at Apple. However, Goodfellow recently left Cupertino, citing differences between him and the company concerning in-office work. Currently, Apple expects employees in-person two days a week. Employees were going to start arriving to the office three days a week, Mondays Tuesdays and Thursdays, however, the recent rise of COVID-19 cases has halted this idea.
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, sources say Google is bringing Goodfellow to the DeppMind division as an individual contributor. Gurman stated that his source has asked not to be identified due to news of the hiring not officially being made public.
The move is bit of a reunion, as Goodfellow is one one of the foremost machine learning researchers, he worked as a researcher at Google until 2019.
DeepMind declined to respond for comment. However, Gurman stated that Alphabet has a more relaxed return-to-office policy than Apple. While Google is asking employees to return to the office, it is generally approving exemptions for most employees that choose to work from home. Goodfellow has yet to start the new job.
Goodfellow served as director of machine learning within Apple’s Special Projects Group, supervising engineers developing autonomous technology. Gurman notes that the director level is one of the most senior at Apple. When factoring in retail employees, Apple hovers around 170,000. On the other hand, the company has only around 1,000 directors.
Return-to-Work Policies Causing Headaches
Currently Goodfellow is the most senior employee publicly known to leave over Apple’s in-office policies. However, more departures are likely for the company.
Apple’s strict return-to-work policy has been a controversial topic for months now. Several employees have made complaints about the decision. Many argue that remote work saves both time and energy due to a lack of commuting and that they are more productive at home. The tech giant has largely seen remote-work since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
Credit usually goes to Goodfellow for creating GANs, or generative adversarial networks. GANs allow computers to create images or data sets with incredible accuracy. This often helps make research more effective. While GANs have seen use in various fields such as video games and astronomy, most people may be familiar with them due to their use in “deepfake” photos and videos.
As Goodfellow left the company, he left a note to his staff citing the return-to-work policy as his reason for leaving.