All of Google’s moonshot projects, eventually falling under Alphabet’s X Lab led by Astro Teller, have one thing in common; no matter how outlandish, difficult, or downright crazy they may be, the endgame is to make Google money in a brand new way while providing a public service or commercial product of some sort. While some of the more creative types in the company seem to be making their exit lately for places where they can find the thrill of the ground-up build again, that hasn’t stopped or even slowed the rolling on of the commercialization machine. On the cusp of becoming a separate Alphabet company, the self-driving car department recently found their lead in auto industry insider and former Hyundai CEO John Krafcik, and now it seems that the same thing is happening over at Project Loon.
Project Loon’s current lead, Mike Cassidy, will reportedly be stepping down into an unspecified position within Google X. Tom Moore of ViaSat fame will be taking his place. Previously the VP of ViaSat, one of the bigger satellite communications outfits in the world, Moore will be bringing with him not only his extensive knowledge of satellite and long-range networking technologies, but also his expertise in commercial operations. While nothing concrete has been stated at this time, the outgoing lead, Cassidy, said back in March that Project Loon was nearing commercial viability.
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While Moore will be taking over Loon, it’s unclear what Cassidy will be doing after stepping down. His previous chops include launching no less than four startups, one of which eventually ended up being bought out by Google. After entering the company, he spent three years as the director of the Google X lab division before taking over Loon personally. This makes it quite likely that he will find himself in another leadership role at Google, perhaps in charge of another moonshot. Moore, meanwhile, will be starting in September as the head of Project Loon, backed by positive words from none other than the moonshot guru and current Google X lead Astro Teller, saying that Moore’s prior experiences in the commercial world will help to finally transition Loon into a position to begin making some money.