Apple to Disband San Diego AI Team, Sparking Relocation Challenges for Employees
In a surprising development, Apple has opted to disband its Data Operations Annotations team in San Diego, comprising 121 employees dedicated to advancing the company's AI operations, specifically bolstering Siri through voice service queries.
The directive mandates relocation to Austin and integration with the Texas branch, a decision that has caught many team members off guard.
Originally a group of contractors responsible for analyzing Siri queries, the team transitioned to full-time employment in 2019, specializing in multiple languages, including Hebrew, English, various Spanish dialects, Portuguese, Arabic, and French.
The relocation decision stemmed from a directive by a top deputy to Apple's AI chief, John Giannandrea, aiming to streamline teams in Austin.
San Diego employees must finalize their relocation decisions by the end of February, with those opting not to relocate facing termination by April 26.
Several affected employees are expressing reservations about moving to Austin, citing concerns about eligibility for roles, particularly for those without engineering backgrounds.
Apple is offering a $7,000 relocation stipend for employees moving to Austin by the end of June.
However, those declining relocation face role elimination with severance pay based on service length and six months of health insurance.
Despite Apple's historical avoidance of layoffs during the pandemic, this strategic move raises the possibility of employee departures.
While Apple remains committed to its growth in San Diego, the consolidation of the AI team in Austin presents significant challenges for the affected workforce.