Apple engineer who quit over back-to-office policy joins Google

A former Apple executive who resigned due to the company’s strict return-to-office policy will join Google just weeks later, according to a report.

Ian Goodfellow, who served as Apple’s director of machine learning until he resigned in early May, will join Google’s DeepMind division as a contributor, Bloomberg reported.

DeepMind uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve Google products.

The news comes as Apple pushes virtually all corporate employees to return to the office for three days a week, even though the company currently requires just two days a week amid a spike in coronavirus cases.

Meanwhile, Google also wants many employees to return three days a week, but is allowing certain employees to work fully remotely, a policy that presumably helped lure Goodfellow.

When Goodfellow announced his departure from Apple, he told colleagues in a farewell note that CEO Tim Cook’s strict push back into the office had pushed him out.

“I strongly believe that more flexibility would have been the best policy for my team,” Goodfellow wrote, according Verge reporter Zoe Schiffer.

Apple employees on the corporate gossip site Blind have attacked the company’s back-to-office policy for months, with one speculating after Goodfellow’s departure that Tim Cook would soon sue five days a week in person.

Google has hired Ian Goodfellow to join its DeepMind division.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

“Everyone and their grandmothers know that Apple is using the pilot program as a springboard for 5 days back in office,” wrote the Apple employee at Blind, which verifies employment through corporate email addresses. “Ian probably found out this was coming and left.”

According to tech talent manager Michael Solomon, most bosses prefer workers eager to get back to the office, but highly desirable candidates like Goodfellow have the power to demand flexibility.

“All things being equal, the person in the office might have an advantage, but if you’re an outperformer, I don’t think it makes any difference,” Solomon told The Post.

Apple wants corporate employees to return to the office three days a week.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Goodfellow previously worked his way from intern to senior research scientist at Google before leaving in 2016.

Apple and Google have some of the strictest return-to-office policies of the big tech companies.

Meta, parent of Facebook and Instagram, is allowing many employees to work remotely forever, with the warning that those who leave high-cost cities like New York and San Francisco for cheaper places may have to take pay cuts.

Meanwhile, Amazon is letting individual managers decide how many days their teams should work in person.

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