Google has a long and storied history as the place where some of the tech industry's quirkiest ideas find their legs and get off the ground. Things like self-driving cars, internet-beaming balloons, and delivery drones have their roots in the hallowed halls of Google's moonshot division, Google X. Long led by Astro Teller, Google X has brought a large number of experiments out of the minds of its engineers and into the real world over the years, but thus far, very few of them have met with any kind of commercial viability. Products often stall when they're close to being ready for launch.
According to a new report out of Recode and in turn, according to insiders familiar with Google X, the cause of this is internal political struggles centered around how to run the different experiments, each essentially their own department, leading up to the flipping of the switch to bring a product to the commercial market. This may be at least part of the reason that some of the more talented and creative minds in the various moonshot labs, such as the person essentially responsible for the genesis of Google's self-driving car efforts, have been leaving en masse recently. Most projects end up in limbo due to a combination of this and the legal framework surround their commercialization, as is the case with self-driving cars and delivery drones. Other projects, like Loon and Google Glass, hit the ground running, but tend to have little direction to them. This leads to projects spinning their wheels and catching on with a niche consumer base, but not achieving proper success. Employees have called such projects "rudderless".
Recent efforts to bring some order to some of these projects have manifested as the bringing on of industry insiders and veterans, such as the tapping of Hyundai's former CEO to lead the self-driving car division, or a telecom veteran to lead Project Loon. Even with these efforts in place, hiring and progress have mostly been as slow recently as they've ever been since the big split that created Alphabet. A move meant to give individual parts of Google more focus and momentum, many within the company say that a number of entities have actually suffered from the reorganization. Because of this, Alphabet heads and Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are reported to have moved their personal operations into the X building, and Astro Teller has implemented a system that rewards employees for giving their own ideas the boot to free up people and money for other projects.