Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Exclusive: Apple Nabs Amazon A9 Exec Stasior to Run Siri — But Does Hire Signal a Bigger Move Into Search?

Apple has hired major Amazon exec and prominent search technologist William Stasior to run its Siri unit, according to sources.

At the online retail giant, Stasior has been in charge of A9, Amazon’s search and search advertising unit. The former AltaVista exec co-founded the independent company and has run it since Udi Manber left for Google.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based A9 now provides search for Amazon sites worldwide, as well as other online retail sites.

Stasior has an impressive pedigree (you can read his resume and see a really geeky binary image he posted of himself here). The MIT PhD has taught there, too, and has done stints at Oracle, Netcentives and AltaVista. He came to Amazon in 2003 as its director of search and navigation.

He will now be in charge of Siri, which is Apple’s famous voice-activated personal-assistant program. The tech giant acquired Siri in April of 2010 to garner a big stake in voice-activated search.

While Siri has had a high profile in the iPhones, Apple has lost some of the talent who created it. Adam Cheyer, who co-founded the voice recognition software company prior to its acquisition by Apple in 2008, left recently. And CEO Dag Kittlaus departed in October of 2011.

What’s more intriguing is what else Stasior might find himself working on — presumably, strengthening Apple’s search and search advertising technology in the wake of its increasing competition with Google.

Apple has recently tossed Google’s mapping technology from the latest version of its iOS 6 operating system and could eventually remove it as a search option, too, on its popular smartphones and also from its other computing devices and software.

Amazon had no comment on Stasior’s departure.


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— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”