Apple tried, unsuccessfully, to poach Google’s former search chief Ben Gomes

After successfully hiring Google’s search and artificial intelligence chief John Giannandrea, now Apple’s Senior Vice President of Machine Learning and AI Strategy, the company has failed to lure Ben Gomes, who was Giannandrea’s top search deputy at the time.


  • Apple previously hired Google’s AI chief, John Giannandrea
  • It then tried, but failed, to poach his successor, Ben Gomes
  • Gomes was Google’s search chief until 2020
  • He currently leads Google’s education efforts
  • Giannandrea, meanwhile, became Apple’s AI and search boss

A photograph showing an aerial view oof the Apple Park headquarters

Apple fails to poach ex-Google search chief Ben Gomes

Bloomberg reported this based on documents that the Department of Justice filed in its ongoing antitrust lawsuit against Google. It subpoenaed Apple for all documents starting January 1, 2020, related to the efforts to lure Giannandrea and Gomes away from Google.

When Apple looking to hire new management for its Siri and artificial intelligence groups, it went after a pair of high-profile targets: Google’s top brass overseeing search.

In April 2018, Apple was successful in bringing Giannandrea onboard. Later that year in December, the company named Giannandrea to its leadership team, reporting to Tim Cook as Apple’s new Senior Vice President of Machine Learning and AI Strategy.

A list of Siri commands for iPhone that work offline

In December 2020, Bloomberg reported that Apple also tasked Giannandrea with managing the rumored Apple Car project, both a vote of confidence and a sign of the executive’s growing influence within the company. After stunning the world and competitors with Siri back in 2012, Apple stumbled and failed to capitalize on being first with an advanced voice assistant.

Subscribe to iDB on YouTube

It’s accepted as a fact that Apple has since failed behind rivals like Google and Amazon in areas like artificial intelligence, search and machine learning. Hiring Google’s top brass overseeing search and artificial intelligence was part of Apple’s plan to turn things around.

It’s unclear when Apple attempted to hire Gomes.

Apple was half-successful in luring Google’s search bosses

What we do know is that the effort was futile—Gomes remains at Google, now leading the company’s education efforts. Since hiring Giannandrea, the company has been improving the search and artificial intelligence capabilities of its products.

As for the Siri voice assistant, the feature did see some improvements over the years, including a move to neural speech which produces more realistic synthetic voices. But taken as a whole, Siri lags behind Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant in almost every metric imaginable.

Granted, Giannandrea’s work on improving Siri would be a multi-year endeavor and his best years at Apple are yet to come. Apple, of course, is aware of Siri’s pain points. To help with that, the company recently launched a new app, dubbed Siri Speech Study, to gather valuable feedback to improve the feature moving forward.