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

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

An ex-Apple executive who quit over the company’s strict return-to-office policy is joining Google just weeks later, according to a report. 

Ian Goodfellow — who worked as Apple’s director of machine learning until he resigned in early May — is joining 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 back into the office for three days per week, though the company is currently requiring just two days per week amid an uptick in coronavirus cases. 

Google, meanwhile, also wants many employees back three days per week, but is letting certain employees work fully remotely — a policy that presumably helped woo Goodfellow.

When Goodfellow announced his departure from Apple, he told colleagues in a goodbye note that CEO Tim Cook’s strict return-to-office push had driven him out. 

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

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

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

“Everyone and their grandma knows Apple is using the pilot as a stepping stone to 5 days back in office,” the Apple employee wrote on Blind, which verifies employment through corporate email addresses. “Ian probably got inside scoop that this is coming and left.” 

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

“If all things are equal, the person in the office might have an advantage — but if you’re a top performer, I don’t think it makes a bit of difference,” Solomon told The Post. 

Apple wants corporate employees back in the office three days per week.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

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

Apple and Google have some of the strictest return-to-office policies out of Big Tech firms. 

Facebook and Instagram parent Meta is letting many employees work remotely forever, with the caveat that those who ditch high-cost cities like New York and San Francisco for cheaper locales may have to take pay cuts

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

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