Clay Bavor, Google’s vice president of its forward-looking Labs division, is leaving the company to found an AI startup, as announced in a post on Bavor’s LinkedIn on Wednesday.
Longtime Verge readers may recognize Bavor as the face of many of Google’s virtual reality and augmented reality plans, including Google’s ARCore and its early VR hardware efforts. But in 2021, he was appointed to lead Google Labs, meaning his purview increased to also include things like Google’s Project Starline video chat booth and its Area 120 incubator, which was dramatically affected by Google’s recent layoffs. Bavor was also overseeing work on an in-development AR headset, my colleague Alex Heath reported in January 2022.
Google isn’t planning to replace Bavor, spokesperson Chris Pappas tells The Verge. The Labs team will be moved to the company’s Tech & Society organization under James Manyika. The company’s AR work will be split, and much of it will be under the leadership of Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s platforms and ecosystems head, and Rick Osterloh, who leads devices and services.
Bavor will be founding the new AI startup with Bret Taylor, a former Facebook (now Meta) CTO and former co-CEO of Salesforce. “We share an obsession with recent advances in AI, and we’re excited to build a new company to apply AI to solve some of the most important problems in business,” Bavor wrote in his LinkedIn post. Bavor and Taylor will officially start work on the company in March. Taylor also posted about the new company on his LinkedIn, though his description of it matches Bavor’s. (The two even posted the same picture.)
Google has recently signaled its own obsession with AI, announcing its Bard chatbot on Monday that has already made a prominent error in a Google tweet.
Update February 8th, 6:24PM ET: Added details from Google.