Google Lands Former Airbnb Exec To Lead Autonomous Driving Project
New hiring points to the possibility of Google opening its own autonomous ride-for-hire serviceby Kirby Garlitos, on
You have to give it to Google. The recent exodus of some of the people behind its autonomous vehicle group has not dampened the spirits of the tech giant. On the contrary, the company appears to be undeterred by all of the departures and it’s even flipped the tables by hiring Airbnb executive Shaun Stewart to serve as a director for its autonomous vehicle group.
The hiring may not have much of a positive windfall on the technical and technological aspects of the business. But from a business-building point-of-view, Stewart is as promising a name in the industry given his pedigree about getting businesses off the ground, having done so in the past when he was the CEO of Jetsetter. That’s exactly what his role in Google is going to be. More specifically, he’s going to be in charge of commercializing the division and turn it into a viable business venture for the technological firm.
Details on what the exact parameters of Stewart’s new gig are still unclear, but recent reports have suggested that one of Stewart’s primary focuses would be to translate the company’s autonomous driving technology into a ride service that relies on the self-driving systems that the company is currently developing. Stewart is expected to work closely with another newly-hired exec, John Krafcik, who was named the CEO of Google’s car division after serving as an exec for Hyundai.
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Why it matters
To be clear, I don’t know who Shaun Stewart is other than what I’ve read about the man. I don’t know his qualifications and why Google thought highly of him that it convinced him to leave his previous job to join the tech giant’s fledgling autonomous vehicle group. I’m sure Google wouldn’t hire him if it didn’t believe in what he has to offer. What this hiring does tell me is that Google isn’t just developing autonomous driving technology for the sheer purpose of knowing that it can do it, nor is it going all-out in the development of the tech because it’s something that it could use to partner with an automaker.
This hiring shows that Google wants to make a viable business out of the technology. Obviously, it’s still not an automaker so it’s going to need help from an automaker to get its business off the ground. Having someone of Stewart’s perceived caliber in getting businesses off the ground is a good sign that the tech firm isn’t letting a few bumps in the road deter it from accomplishing its long-term goal. Like everyone else, I’m looking forward to see what comes out of Google’s development of its autonomous driving technology. If it does end up where the tech giant needs to go, I’ve a feeling Shaun Stewart will have something to do with it.