Chris O’Neill, who led the business operations of Google Glass since May 2014, has reportedly vacated that role after only thirteen months at the helm, but is staying on with the company. This report comes soon after news that ATAP’s chief, Pau Eremenko has relinquished his position to join Airbus, earlier this week. Mr. O’Neill was appointed as the Chief of Global Business Operations at Google X last year, after serving as the Managing Director of Google Canada for four years. Ivy Ross was also appointed Google’s first ever Chief Executive in the same month that Mr. O’Neill took over as the business chief of Google X. Chris O’Neill joined Google exactly ten years ago in 2005, and has held various finance and sales positions in the company since then. He was elevated as the director of Retail Operations, before moving onto his role in Canada.
Google X, over the last few years, has been experimenting on a lot of seemingly out-there projects such as Project Loon, which proposes to provide internet access through balloons in the stratosphere. The company has already entered into deals with Vodafone and Telefonica towards that end. Google has also reportedly entered into a deal with pharmaceutical company Novartis to manufacture its smart contact lenses, which can measure glucose levels in tears. However, the division’s most well-known project – Google Glass – saw its ‘Explorer’ program being shut down in January this year, amidst a barrage of critical reports and a variety of issues facing the device, mostly relating to public perception, with concerns regarding privacy. However, Google is far from throwing in the towel on the project itself, and the Glass has since, moved out of Google X and into the hands on Tony Fadell, who’s now working on the next generation of the device.
Under fire for not delivering a commercially viable product, the embattled Google X division has had to rely on some of the company’s most high-profile leaders in recent times for defense. Chief Business Officer Omid Kordestani had to publicly come out and defend the moonshot projects at the Google I/O, claiming that the company is not looking at short-term gains, but concentrating on the long-term with its projects. Chairman Eric Schmidt and co-founder Sergey Brin also pretty much reiterated their collective faith in Google X, while speaking to shareholders at the AGM on Wednesday. Google meanwhile, informed the Securities and Exchange Commission through a letter, that while the outcome of its moonshot projects remains uncertain, they continue to be of critical importance to the company as a whole, going forward.