Two years ago, Google appointed its head of artificial intelligence to lead Search in a move that reflected the future of the company. Today, John Giannandrea is stepping down from those positions, with Google veterans Ben Gomes and Jeff Dean taking over.

Appointed in early 2016, Giannandrea served as senior vice president of engineering and joined Google in 2010 following the acquisition of Metaweb Technologies. That purchase by Google later became the Knowledge Graph, which is responsible for powering what Assistant and Search “know” when queried.

As reported by The Information today and confirmed by the company, his role is being split among two longtime Googlers. Jeff Dean will lead Google’s AI efforts, with the 19-year veteran and widely revered engineer continuing to lead Google Brain — the company’s internal machine learning research team.

Meanwhile, the current head of Search engineering Ben Gomes will expand his role and lead all of Search as vice president. According to Bloomberg, he worked to reduce misinformation and other similar “fake news” in Search over the past year.

The Information reports that Giannandrea is remaining at the company to focus — be “more hands on with technology” — and presumably return to AI research where he originally began at Google.

9to5Google’s Take

Search and AI are arguably Google’s most important products currently and for the future. Sundar Pichai has repeatedly touted the move from “mobile first” to an “AI first” world. With an invaluable lead in both fields, today’s move puts two career and trusted Google engineers in charge.


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