Why ‘The Coach’ left Google

November 9, 2010, 10:43 AM UTC

He advised both Apple and Google until a Fortune profile brought his role to light

Bill Campbell. Photo: Intuit

When Bill Campbell executed a “non-sale transfer” of $7.7 million worth of Apple (AAPL) stock in Sept. 2009, we speculated that given his increasing awkward position as a close adviser to both Steve Jobs and Google (GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt, Campbell might be reconsidering his position on Apple’s board of directors.

We were wrong about that. Campbell still sits on Apple’s board. It was his unique relationship with Google — the only outsider who sat in on board meetings — that had to change. And according to Campbell, it was the rare profile in Fortune we quoted that forced the issue.

“I had a nice time for a long time being under the radar,” he told the New York Times‘ Miguel Helft in an interview posted Monday:

But after the Fortune article, “instead of being an anonymous guy who wandered around in the Valley, I became someone people focused on,” he said. Using salty language, he added that there was a time when no [one] cared about his role at Google or Apple, but that changed. “Today it is problematic,” he said. “There is nothing I would do for either company that would jeopardize one or the other, but that’s not the point.”

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]