Siri Has A New Boss
October 16, 2012

Apple Nabs Amazon Exec For Siri

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

In an exclusive report, Kara Swisher with the Wall Street Journal and All Things D claimed yesterday that Apple had managed to snag away an Amazon A9 executive and plans to have him run their Siri unit.

According to Swisher, William Stasior is a “prominent search technologist” with an “impressive pedigree” who until very recently worked for Amazon as the head of their A9 unit. Amazon´s A9 unit is responsible not only for delivering suggestions when shopping but also for “flow,” Amazon´s visual search-driven app allows users to simply snap a picture of the item they want to look up on Amazon. Amazon's A9 also powers CloudSearch, which powers search applications offsite and in the cloud.

Stasior has some deep Internet roots as well, co-founding AltaVista.

Stasior also spent some time with Oracle, according to his resume after spending several years earning his Ph.D  and teaching at MIT.

According to sources familiar with the hiring process, Swisher says Stasior will be in charge of Apple´s Intelligent Personal Assistant, Siri. Apple brought Siri into their life in 2010 after an app by the same name and functionality had been released through the App Store. Though still in Beta, Siri has improved since her early days spent exclusively on the iPhone 4S. Now on more devices than ever, (the newest iPads, iPhones and iPod Touch) Siri is also able to do more, such as suggest movies and restaurants based on ratings and even give turn-by-turn navigation. While Siri can perform some pretty cool tricks, the majority of her duties involve some sort of web search, such as finding out the stats of individual athletes or discovering how many pints are in a gallon.

Furthermore, and as pointed out by Swisher, some of the original Siri talent who were brought in-house with the 2010 acquisition have since left Apple. For instance, Adam Cheyer, Siri co-founder and senior engineer, left the Cupertino company in June, though the news about his departure wasn´t revealed until September. People Familiar With the Matter have said Cheyer left to spend time with family and work on other projects.

Shortly after Siri had her big coming out moment on the iPhone 4S last October, another co-founder, Dag Kittlaus, left the company, also vowing to spend more time with his family and work on other projects.

What makes this alleged hire even more interesting is the growing tension between Apple and Google. Not only has Apple removed the once native Google-data-driven maps and YouTube apps from their iOS platform, a recent report by Bloomberg suggests that Steve Jobs was even ready to pull Google search from iOS as well, but ultimately decided against it.

Just as Apple began to use their own maps data in iOS 6, Swisher suggests that Apple may be ready to bring web search in-house as well, with Stasior at the helm.

Amazon did not offer any comment about Stasior´s supposed change of employers to Swisher when she asked.

As with all stories concerning non-confirmed details, we´ll all have to wait until one of these companies makes an official announcement, or Stasior begins handing out business cards with 1 Infinite Loop listed as the address.