Google is splitting A.I. into its own business unit and shaking up its search leadership

Key Points
  • John Giannandrea is stepping down as the head of Google's search and artificial intelligent unit.
  • His role will be replaced by two execs: Ben Gomes will lead the search organization and Jeff Dean will lead Google AI.
John Giannandrea, senior vice president of engineering at Google
Photo by Bloomberg

The executive leading Google's search and artificial intelligence units, John Giannandrea, is stepping down after two years on the job, the company confirmed on Monday.

Giannandrea's role will now be split between two executives: Jeff Dean, the cofounder of Google Brain, one of the company's AI research arms, will lead all of its AI efforts. Ben Gomes, who joined Google in 2000 and was running search engineering, will take over the search organization.

When Giannandrea inherited the role from Amit Singhal in early 2016, it signaled Google's emphasis on weaving machine learning and artificial intelligence into its most important product, search. But Google CEO Sundar Pichai has increasingly emphasized AI's importance to the entire company. The move suggests that AI is now important enough to form its own business unit.

Giannandrea, a machine learning expert, joined Google in 2010 after it acquired his startup Metaweb Technologies. That technology formed the basis of Google's "Knowledge Graph," which quickly surfaces information at the top of search.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Giannandrea has been hired by Apple to run its AI group.

The move was first reported by The Information.