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Apple: Top exec resigns over return-to-office policy

A top AI executive at Apple has left the company over its return-to-office policy, according to a report. The news came as Apple orders all of its corporate employees come back to the office three days a weeka stricter policy than that of its competitors such as Meta, Google and Amazon, which allow at least some employees to work at distance.

Machine learning director Ian Goodfellow announced his resignation last week, telling colleagues that pressure from CEO Tim Cook to get employees back on the job office had been the cause.

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

Several Apple employees confirmed Goodfellow’s departure on the corporate rumor site Blind.

An Apple employee quoted Goodfellow as saying, “I’m leaving for many reasons… but Apple’s back-to-office policy is the biggest reason“.

Apple’s policy

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple. Reuters Photo

Apple employees definitively returned to face-to-face work on April 11 after two years of remote work due to the covid pandemic. The company agreed to adopt a hybrid model, which forces workers to go to the office at least three days a week. However, this method has not convinced everyone. The first to fall was Ian Goodfellow, director of machine learning at Apple.

Apple requires employees to work in person on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Employees can also telecommuting for a maximum of four weeks a year.

An Apple employee speculated that Goodfellow’s departure comes ahead of a possible announcement that the company will increase the I work in person five days a week.

“Everyone and their grandmother knows that Apple is using the pilot as a springboard to go back to work 5 days in the office,” wrote the Apple employee at Blind, which verifies employment through corporate email addresses. “Ian probably got the scoop that this was going to happen and left.

Apple and Goodfellow did not immediately respond to requests for comment from specialized media.

Following Goodfellow’s departure, Apple employees again railed against their employer, with one accusing the iPhone maker of mishandling the situation.

“All other companies…including [Google] are allowing people [trabajar] remotely and posting remote posts. The worst is [Apple] does not give a sensible reason“said an employee.

Goodfellow was hired by Apple from Google in 2019, where he started out as a research scientist and had a career for a few years. At Apple he worked as a director in the company’s Special Projects Group, where products such as the Apple Car, known as Project Titan, are found.

He was a key piece for the future of Apple due to his involvement in the development of artificial intelligence systems. Goodfellow started his career in Cupertino just 3 years ago, when he decided to leave Google to join the “Apple Special Projects Group” as director of machine learning.

At Mountain View, Goodfellow became a senior software engineering research scientist. He is considered the father of Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN), neural networks capable of creating their own designs based on a set of real data. This technology can be used to generate fake media content.

Despite his involvement and advances in Artificial Intelligence systems, just three years after joining Apple, Goodfellow has decided to leave the company. Although the official reasons for his departure are unknown, Goodfellow hinted that Apple’s policy change so that more people work from their offices It was the trigger that led him to make the decision. “I strongly believe that more flexibility would have been the best option for my team,” Goodfellow wrote in a note according to Zoe Schiffer.

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