Google+ SpaceTravelFoundation: Satellite executive suddenly out at Google and move to SpaceX

September 4, 2014

Satellite executive suddenly out at Google and move to SpaceX

Dear readers and followers,

Google's efforts to build a network of satellites to provide Internet service to the billions of people around the world took a hit on Wednesday after reports that one of the program leads had abruptly left the company.

Credit image: AFP

Web companies such as Google and Facebook from the Silicon Valley ramp up efforts to connect the world to their services, they are increasingly looking to the skies and higher. Few months ago, Google hired Brian Holz, who was chief technology officer at O3b Networks, which has launched special satellites to try to broadcast signals that would power new Internet service in developing countries around the world. Google had previously made a financial investment in O3b and one of its employees sits on O3b’s board. The startup’s recently-launched satellites faced technical setbacks this year. Moreover, Google also recently hired Dave Bettinger, who had spent 18 years at satellite firm VT iDirect, which supplies high speed broadband and other communications to military services and the oil and gas industry, according to people at Google. VT iDirect also suffered some product delays recently.

Reports emerged in early June that Google had partnered with O3b Networks as a part of Project Loon, a project to launch low-orbit, Internet-enabled satellites. Wyler joined Google to help with the project and reported directly to chief executive Larry Page.

Google Satellite executive Greg Wyler has left Google and has reportedly been seen frequenting the SpaceX office, according to The Wall Street Journal. Neither Wyler nor the two companies have commented on his abrupt departure, which comes just months after he was hired to assist in Google's attempt at creating a global internet service. 

Although he is reportedly working in close proximity with billionaire Elon Musk, The Wall Street Journal cites sources as stating that the satellite communications expert is not a SpaceX employee. His departure also coincides with Google's loss of rights to a certain radio spectrum, which is controlled by Wyler's company WorldVu Satellites Ltd. "This could hurt Google's aspirations in this area in the short term," Mile Marker 101 CEO Neil Mackey tells The Wall Street Journal.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Wyler would be helming a Google project that would put 180 satellites in orbit as part of its bid to provide worldwide internet access.

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