Bloomberg reports that Tom Moore, who was named CEO of Alphabet’s Project Loon initiative in August, will be replaced by Alastair Westgarth, former head of antenna maker Quintel. Moore will remain at Loon for a time during the transition.
The sudden switch comes as Alphabet’s various experimental side-projects—a.k.a. ‘moonshots’—are under increased pressure to justify their existence. Hiring Moore, who had been an executive at broadband satellite company ViaSat, was itself touted as part of the shift toward commercialization of Loon, whose high-flying balloons could be used to provide high-speed wireless internet to remote areas.
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The goal of commercialization was advanced under Moore’s brief tenure, most notably by the introduction of new pathing software that would allow a smaller number of balloons to provide service in specific areas. The original vision for Loon was of an extensive, and expensive, worldwide network.
A spokeswoman for X told Bloomberg of Loon’s incoming CEO: “Alastair’s vision for Project Loon aligns with X’s philosophy of approaching huge problems, at scale, to improve the lives of millions or billions of people.”