"I'm sad because I really thought we really could build something amazing together."

Changing Tides

Google's quantum computer team reached a major milestone in October: quantum supremacy. But in April, one of the most prominent researchers on the team, John Martinis, left the company.

The move shocked quantum researchers across the industry. Now, an interview published in Forbes reveals that there was a great deal of drama over leadership direction within Google's quantum team — and Martinis left because of major headbutting about how the team should move forward.

Growing Apart

According to Martinis' retelling of the story, problems seemed to arise when team members wanted to pivot from the course that he had already charted for them. And while he remains optimistic about Google's future in the quantum computing space, it was no longer something he wanted to be a part of.

"I think it was hard on people in the group to focus on quantum supremacy because it meant they couldn't work on other things they wanted to do," Martinis told Forbes contributor Paul Smith-Goodson, "and most importantly, we could fail."

Divided Front

Martinis felt that Google's team was more interested in starting a wide array of projects that, in contrast to his own singularly-focused style, seemed redundant and detracted from the team's broader long-term goals. And when he raised his concerns with his manager, Hartmut Neven, he felt that Neven agreed more with the others.

"I'm sad because I really thought we really could build something amazing together," Martinis added, "but you know, things don't always work out the way you want. You just have to figure out the best way forward."

READ MORE: Google's Top Quantum Scientist Explains In Detail Why He Resigned [Forbes]

More on Google: Here’s Why Quantum Supremacy Matters

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