After leading Apple’s Siri team for six and a half years, Bill Stasior left the company for greener pastures elsewhere. Now he’ll be traversing Microsoft’s bucolic meadows, where The Information reports that he’ll head up an artificial intelligence group for the Redmond-based software giant.
Stasior’s latest resume confirms that he joined Microsoft this month as a corporate VP of technology, working under CTO Kevin Scott on unspecified projects, and today’s report suggests that he’ll “work to help align technology strategies across the company.” Given Stasior’s background, that could mean either a wholesale revisiting of Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana, which has recently started to fade out of the company’s consumer offerings, or something else entirely.
While Stasior presided over years of Siri’s well-documented and troubled history, he was also the executive responsible for directing its under-publicized growth within Apple. He came on board a year after Siri launched for the iPhone 4S and helped to grow the early 70-person engineering team to a group of 1,100 people, including acquiring and integrating 10 small technology companies within Apple. Stasior also takes credit for “bringing modern machine learning to Siri and Apple” and leading the team to expand Siri’s footprint to seven platforms and over 30 languages.
Apple began consolidating its machine learning and Siri teams under former Google AI head John Giannandrea in July 2018 and has since been hiring other AI experts to advance its work in the area. Stasior’s departure from Apple was reported in February, but his resume suggests that he stayed with the company until May, possibly in a non-competitive consulting role.
Before coming to Apple for Siri, Stasior spent six and a half years leading Amazon’s A9 team, which was responsible for providing the core search, advertising, personalization, and image recognition services used by Amazon; before that, he was involved in search and navigation with Amazon and AltaVista. Microsoft’s Bing search engine has remained a distant rival to Google’s core service, and like Cortana could stand to be improved with some outside expertise and perspective.