Key Exec Driving Apple Web Search Leaves To Rejoin Google

Four years after Laserlike was acquired by Apple to boost its web search technology, at least one of the three founders has quit to rejoin Google.

Anand Shukla, Srinivasan Venkatachary, and Steven Baker were Google employees prior to forming Laserlike in 2015. Apple in 2018 acquired Laserlike, a startup founded by three former Google search engines.

Despite Apple already having a search engine it uses for Spotlight Searches and Siri, their work at Apple is one reason reports surfaced that Apple would launch a search engine like Google, according to one report.

Laserlike co-founder Srinivasan Venkatachary was a senior director in the search team at Apple, with about 200 employees, according to The Information, citing a person with direct knowledge of the structure.

The team, which has operated separately from the group in charge of search results for Apple’s App Store, develops technology for the Spotlight and Siri Suggestions search features on iPhones and Macs. It also helps improve answers for the Siri voice assistant, according to reports.

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Venkatachary rejoined Google, as 9To5Mac points out. His LinkedIn profile states he left Apple in October to join Google, taking the position of vice president of engineering. Shukla’s and Baker’s LinkedIn posts still state they work at Apple. Shukla as an engineer. Baker as a distinguished engineer in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Venkatachary reports to James Manyika, senior vice president of technology and society at Google. Baker and Shukla work on Manyika's team, according to 9To5Mac, citing an unknown source by The Information. It's not known whether all quit Apple simultaneously, or whether Venkatachary is the latest to move.

Apple is reportedly focused on expanding the technology developed by Venkachatary’s former team to power search for Apple Music and the App Store, reports 9To5Mac, citing The Information. The possible also exists that the group will “generate data for Apple teams developing applications using natural language processing, such as those involving translation.”

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