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Siri Co-founder Leaves Apple as Management Changes Continue

The Information is reporting (N.B. paywall) that Siri cofounder, Tom Gruber, has left Apple. Mr. Gruber’s LinkedIn profile lists him as still at Apple, but a company spokesperson confirmed his departure according to The Information. The spokesperson said he is retiring to focus on personal interests and not to join another company. Gruber was a co-founder and the original CTO at Siri which was acquired by Apple in May 2010. Siri co-founders Dag Kittlaus and Adam Cheyer left Apple in 2011 and founded voice assistant startup Viv Labs in 2012. Viv was acquired by Samsung in October 2016.

Ongoing Management Changes

Gruber’s departure comes just a three months after Apple recruited John Giannandrea away from Google to centralize AI initiatives. Giannandrea was initially hired to oversee the AI and machine teams and it was reported earlier this month that Siri is also now under his leadership. The departure timing along with the leadership change would appear to be related.

The good news is that the shifts may indicate activity out of the Siri group. It is too early to tell whether activity is a sign of progress, but it is a prerequisite. Everyone outside of Apple recognized long ago that Siri needed to change to compete in a market with very different expectations and capabilities than 2011. Maybe people inside have come to the same conclusion. With that said, people leaving could also be a bad sign that they have lost faith in the product. Either way, I suspect we won’t see much new on the Siri front before 2019.


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