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Apple is hiring a lot of talent from British chip designer Imagination Technologies, the company that provides the graphics processor for the iPhone 7.
Apple confirmed in March through the London Stock Exchange that it had discussions to buy Imagination Technologies but that it ultimately did not make an offer for the chip company.
But since then, Apple may have gotten what it wanted anyway, hiring several senior employees from Imagination as well as a handful of engineering talent in what was described to Business Insider as a “brain drain.”
The biggest hire is John Metcalfe, whose LinkedIn profile says he’s been working as a senior director at Apple since July. He was Imagination Technology’s COO for a decade before that, and was nearly a 20-year veteran of the company. Last October, Apple hired Imagination’s VP of Hardware Engineering to be a director based in the United Kingdom.
The moves are notable as Apple is reportedly the third-largest shareholder in Imagination Technologies.
Other recent hires from Imagination Technologies now work for Apple in London in positions like GPU Architect, Engineering Manager, FE Hardware Design, and Design Manager. The hires worked on Imagination Technology’s PowerVR product, which is what is included in the iPhone.
Six technical employees from Imagination Technologies have joined Apple since September. The hires may be working on GPU technology in Greater London. Apple has long been rumored to be working on its own GPU design but it has never been confirmed. The company has a GPU-focused office in Orlando, Florida as well.
One of Apple’s core strengths is chip design. Apple designs the system-on-a-chip used in the iPhone, for example. Most other phone makers buy a design from companies like Qualcomm or MediaTek.
GPU technology is becoming increasingly important as a building block for technologies including computer vision, self-driving cars, virtual reality, and augmented reality.
Imagination Technologies has had a mixed year, although its stock is up over the past year. It overhauled its business in February as its former CEO Hossein Yassie stepped down. Then, it cut 200 jobs in March. In July, it posted a large £61.5 million loss on revenue of £120 million.
“It’s no surprise that our customers, who are exposed to the talent here, sometimes hire that talent, especially from our more customer facing teams. To call it a brain drain is nonsense – Imagination is a 1,400+ person company and we are talking about a handful who have gone to any one customer,” an Imagination Technologies spokesperson told Business Insider.
“We have no issues with anyone who has gone from Imagination to work with a customer – we all still work closely together no matter which side of the relationship is paying our wages,” the spokesperson continued, saying that “we see Imagination continuing as a strong, independent IP company owned by its shareholders.”
Apple declined to comment.
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