Google Glass Business Chief Departs

Chris O’Neill, the business chief for Google Glass, is leaving the position after thirteen months.

O’Neill was named head of global business operations at Google X, the company’s moonshot division, in May 2014, the same month Google hired design and marketing exec Ivy Ross as its maiden chief executive.

O’Neill is staying at the company, he told Re/code. A Google spokeswoman confirmed he led business operations for Glass, but did not comment further.

Chris O'Neill, Head of Business Operations, Google Glass

Chris O’Neill, Head of Business Operations, Google Glass

In January, Google shut down its Explorer Program, which sold the headset for $1,500. The company announced Glass had “graduated” from Google X and was being handed over to Tony Fadell, the CEO of Nest Labs. Fadell now oversees its next consumer iteration, albeit separately from the home automation division. Ross and the Glass team report to him, but they do not work with staff from Nest.

Although Glass shut down consumer sales, it has kept its enterprise operation open, selling the headgear to companies like automotive and medical equipment manufacturers.

O’Neill came to Glass after four years as managing director for Google Canada. Earlier, he was the director of retail for the company and held finance and sales roles at Google, which he joined in 2005.

Since its founding 2010, Google X has unmasked a handful of its secretive initiatives, including Glass, the self-driving car and the internet access program Project Loon. Last July, Google signed a deal with drug-maker Novartis to license its smart contact lens. Project Loon is partnering with Vodafone and Telefonica, two of the largest global carriers, and SVP Sundar Pichai hinted at more telecom tie-ups to come last week at Google I/O. But Google X has revealed scant other revenue potential for the division.

Lately, Google’s top brass have come out in defense of Google’s moonshots.

Chief business officer Omid Kordestani argued at the Code Conference that Google is not immediately concerned with the dearth of business models for Google X and its other futuristic bets. Chairman Eric Schmidt echoed the sentiment to shareholders at its annual meeting on Wednesday, as did co-founder Sergey Brin, who filed an SEC letter earlier this morning that said the outcomes from the projects are “far from certain,” but critical to Google.

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