Under normal writing conditions I wouldn’t bother with personnel issues, but this one is different, yet par for the course. Google just hired one of Apple’s so-called chip designers. This is a big deal for a variety of reasons.
First, because Google should be able to hire anyone it pleases, needs, and can afford. Second, not every Apple employee is happy because upward mobility in the organization can be complicated. Thanks to lucrative stock options executives and top engineers don’t leave often. If they do, their leaving should be suspect, or the end result of a long and prosperous tenure at Apple.
According to Variety, my personnel bible, Manu Gulati left his position on Apple’s chip development team and joined Google.
The answer to ‘Why did Gulati leave Apple?‘ would and could and should be of interest for a variety of reasons. No upward mobility at Apple comes to mind. A big bonus package from Google to switch teams comes to mind (and with some non-disclosure caveats), too. And so does Google’s intent to copy Apple’s success in chip design by assembling its own chip team to help the Pixel smartphone differentiate itself from the Android riffraff.
Suffice it to say I don’t know much about chip designs or the complexities that come with etching silicon, but I know something about people and how they behave. Apple is doing something that Google is not, so, “if you can’t beat ’em, steal from ’em.” Apple’s in-house chip design team seems to be smoking the competition. A two year old iPhone still runs rings around Samsung’s latest Galaxy in benchmarks and Apple’s own SVP of software engineerings Craig Federighi said the iPhone is six times faster than Google’s Pixel phone at image recognition.
Ipso facto and alakazam. The search engine giant and Pixel maker needs chip designers to catch up with Apple. Oh, and Apple has chip designers, so Gulati’s name came up on Google’s radar and they gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse. In the end, Apple is minus one experienced chip designer, and Google steals from Apple again.
From what I can tell, this kind of swapping and switching goes on in Silicon Valley all the time, so it’s no surprise. What is a surprise is that Apple didn’t feel the need to do everything possible to keep Gulati, assuming he was that valuable. And, Google feels an overriding need to build hardware in such a way as to match Microsoft. From a human standpoint, what do such actions tell Google’s Android OS smartphone makers, and Microsoft’s Windows PC makers?
Here’s what it tells me:
Google to smartphone makers – “You folks keep fighting amongst yourselves for the low priced crowd because we’re just going to hang around up here where the premium devices (and profits) are.”
Microsoft to PC makers – “You folks keep fighting amongst yourselves for the low priced crowd because we’re just going to hang around up here where the premium devices (and profits) are.”
That wasn’t so hard, was it?