Brain drain at Google's Verily life sciences unit?
Google's life sciences lab Verily appears to be foundering amid an exodus of key personnel.
About a dozen top engineers, managers and scientists have left within the past year — and half of those stepped down in 2016 — to find employment at companies such as Amazon and Grail, or simply return to Google itself, according to STAT.
Those who have left include product leads, senior scientists, a head of product design, a cofounder of the company’s smart contact lens project, even a Google Fellow.
"Some gave up coveted Verily spots to return to the Google mothership, including Diane Tang — a revered 'Google Fellow,' the company’s highest technical rank, achieved by only about a dozen employees in the company’s history,” STAT reported. “Others joined competitors."
Verily, which was formerly known as Google X, and is often referred to as the company’s moonshot lab, employs approximately 400 people. Comprising four distinct units focusing on hardware, software, clinical and science work, Verily is part of the Alphabet company Google established in August of 2015. In addition to the smart contact lens initiative, Verily is working on algorithms to improve medicine, ways to more keenly understand health and disease to ultimately apply technology to study and practice of healthcare.
Despite those key employees leaving, top Verily brass including CMO Jessica Mega, MD, CTO Brian Otis and CEO Andy Conrad are intact — though STAT took dead aim at Conrad describing him as a divisive and impulsive leader who has created an environment wherein employees are dispirited and lack focus.
STAT reported that the company is still growing, adding new talent and that Silicon Valley executives frequently hop from one company to the next. But the article quoted longtime IT analyst Rob Enderle as saying that so many executives "getting off the roller coaster before if gets to the first dip" at the very least makes it look like something is wrong.