Tom Moore, the head of Alphabet's Project Loon, which aims to provide internet in remote areas using a ‘network of balloons travelling on the edge of space’, has stepped down after just six months leading the project.
Moore, a satellite veteran, was hired by Alphabet subsidiary X — the research and development division of Google's parent company dedicated to improbable ‘moonshot’ projects — in August last year. Though Moore is being replaced as project leader by Alastair Westgarth, he will continue working at X in an advisory capacity for the next few months, a statement released by X confirmed.
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Project Loon is an ambitious effort by Alphabet to provide global internet connectivity using a network of high-altitude balloons. Moore was hired to lead the project due to his expertise in the satellite internet domain. He co-founded a satellite-based broadband provider called WildBlue Communications Inc., and then served as Senior Vice President at ViaSat Inc. after it acquired the former company.
His replacement, Alastair Westgarth, has similar expertise in the satellite internet sector. The CEO of a cellular antenna company called Quintel, Westgarth has scaled several early-stage startups into commercial businesses, reports Bloomberg. He has also held executive positions at numerous companies which include Airspan Networks Inc., InnerWireless Inc., Navini Networks Inc., and Tango Networks Inc.
Change in leadership is a common occurrence at X. Moore took over the company's reins from Mike Cassidy after he stepped down last year. Many other executives — including Tony Fadell, who ran Nest, Craig Barratt, who ran Access (the division that oversaw Google Fiber), and Dave Vos, the head of the drone delivery undertaking dubbed Project Wing — have departed the company in recent months.
“Change is a constant at X, because it's essential for innovation. We’ve found that different phases of moonshot development benefit from different kinds of leadership, and that some individuals enjoy some phases of projects more than others,” explained a statement released by X.
X, the self-described ‘Moonshot Factory’, attempts to solve large-scale problems using a radical approach assisted with breakthrough technology. It has ‘graduated’ several projects in recent years including the Google Glass, Google Watch, and the self-driving car Waymo. The company currently has three active projects — Project Loon, Project Wing, and Makani (an energy kite aimed at improving the way we harness wind energy).