Apple’s San Diego Team Faces Tough Choice: Relocate or Terminate


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  • Apple is closing its San Diego team, forcing employees to move to Austin or face job termination, stirring reluctance among some due to concerns about eligibility for other roles.
  • The San Diego team, vital for Siri’s language functionality, plays a key role in Apple’s AI strategy; those who move receive a relocation stipend, while those who leave get severance pay.
  • Apple’s decision aligns with its focus on AI and Large Language Models, reflecting its commitment to innovation despite challenges in workforce management.


Tech giant Apple Inc. is set to shut down its Data Operations Annotations team in San Diego, raising a pivotal dilemma for its 121 employees. The team, which is integral to enhancing Siri’s functionality, must now decide between relocating to Austin, Texas, or facing termination by April 26. Christine DeFilippo, a top deputy to Apple’s AI chief, John Giannandrea, announced the decision.

Apple’s decision to close its San Diego Data Operations Annotations team is part of a broader strategy to centralize its US-based teams in Austin. This move has put the San Diego employees in a challenging position. While Apple initially hinted at the possibility of relocation within San Diego, the final decision caught many by surprise.

For these employees, it’s a stark choice: either uproot their lives and join the larger team in Austin or face termination in a few months. The San Diego team plays a critical role in Apple’s AI capabilities, particularly in enhancing Siri’s functionality across multiple languages like Hebrew, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, and French.

Reluctance to relocate

Despite Apple’s offer of a $7,000 relocation stipend for those willing to move to Austin, many affected San Diego workers have expressed reluctance. Their hesitance stems partly from concerns about their eligibility for other roles within Apple, especially for those without engineering backgrounds.

While the company emphasizes the opportunity for all current employees to continue their roles in the new location, relocating across states can be a significant upheaval, personally and professionally. Apple’s San Diego team has been a part of the company’s efforts to refine Siri’s capabilities, and the potential loss of experienced talent is a concern.

Apple is not leaving its San Diego employees entirely without options. Those who choose not to relocate receive a severance package, including four weeks of severance pay and an additional week for every year worked. Additionally, they will be provided with six months of health insurance coverage.

The severance package is designed to cushion the blow for those who opt to leave, acknowledging their contributions to the company over the years. How many San Diego team members will ultimately decide to move to Austin remains to be seen.

Apple’s AI and LLM strategy

Apple’s decision to close the San Diego Data Operations Annotations team comes at a crucial juncture. The company has been working on its Large Language Model (LLM) strategy, which is set to be announced in June. This move highlights Apple’s commitment to advancing AI and machine learning technologies.

Despite the challenges of managing its workforce during this transition, Apple’s decision reflects its dedication to remaining competitive in the ever-evolving field of artificial intelligence.

A unique workforce challenge for Apple

Unlike some of its tech peers, Apple had largely managed to avoid layoffs during the pandemic. The Data Operations Annotations group in San Diego had initially consisted of contractors who listened to Siri queries but was transformed into a team of full-time employees in 2019, partly in response to privacy concerns.

This transformation underscores Apple’s evolving strategy in AI and its willingness to invest in building a skilled in-house workforce. While this strategic shift brings challenges in terms of workforce management, it also reflects Apple’s long-term vision for AI development.

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Brenda Kanana

Brenda Kanana is an accomplished and passionate writer specializing in the fascinating world of cryptocurrencies, Blockchain, NFT, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). With a profound understanding of blockchain technology and its implications, she is dedicated to demystifying complex concepts and delivering valuable insights to readers.

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