Relocate or face job loss: Apple is shutting down its AI team, over 120 employees to be impacted
Apple decides to shut down its Data Operations Annotations team in San Diego, instructing employees to merge with the Texas team in Austin. It is offering $7,000 relocation stipend, severance pay and six months health insurance to affected employees.
In a surprising development, Apple has decided to shut down its Data Operations Annotations team, consisting of 121 employees in San Diego, responsible for advancing the company's artificial intelligence operations. The team, which focused mostly on improving Siri through voice service inquiries, has been told to move to Austin and combine with the organisation's Texas division.
Originally comprised of contractors who listened to Siri queries, the team transitioned to full-time employees in 2019 after the listening practice became optional for customers. The focus of the San Diego group extended to multiple languages, including Hebrew, English, various Spanish dialects, Portuguese, Arabic, and French. The relocation announcement was made by a top deputy to Apple's AI chief, John Giannandrea, according to reports from Bloomberg, which Apple later confirmed.
The move, according to an Apple representative, is intended to "bring together our Data Operations Annotations teams in the US at our campus in Austin, where a majority of the team is already based." She promised that all of the present staff members will be able to stay on at Apple in Austin in their current positions. The hitch is that San Diego workers must choose whether to relocate by the end of February; those who choose not to do so risk being fired on April 26.
Even while Apple has stated that it is committed to San Diego, where the firm has experienced significant growth, many employees were taken aback by the AI team's move to Austin. Earlier indications suggested they would be relocated to a new Apple campus in the region by the end of January, but instead, they now face a move to Texas.
Many of the impacted employees have expressed their unwillingness to move to Austin, citing worries that their lack of technical experience may prevent them from being hired. Although Apple has let staff members know that they can apply for other jobs, details on future job opportunities are still unclear.
Apple is providing a $7,000 relocation compensation to staff members who decide to move to Austin before the end of June in order to facilitate the transfer. Those declining the offer will see their roles eliminated, receiving severance pay based on their length of service and six months of health insurance.