Alphabet Inc’s Google is miles ahead of rivals in the self-driving race even though the likes of Tesla , Uber, and Volvo are making bigger waves at the moment. Google’s self-driving car project is maintaining market leadership in the level of its technology, number of autonomous miles driven, and safety records. Now, Google is practically done building its self-driving cars and it has hired an Airbnb executive to bring self-driving cars to consumers.
Airbnb Exec to Help Alphabet’s Google sell cars
Google’s self-driving car project suffered a terrible blow earlier this month when the CTO of the project, Chris Urmson left. Chris Urmson has been a vocal proponent of full self-driving cars at a time when Tesla was hyping its driver-assist Autopilot tech. Ursom was the team leader, spokesperson, and visionary of Google’s self driving car project.
During a Ted Talk in June Urmson shaded Tesla and touted Google’s project in saying, “wisdom would say that we’ll just take these driver assistance systems and we’ll kind of push them and improve them, and over time, they’ll turn into self-driving cars. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s like me saying that if I work really hard at jumping, one day I’ll be able to fly.” Urmson took up the challenge of ensuring that Google built its self-driving cars from the ground up.
However, Google is on a hiring spree to ensure that the exit of Chris Urmson doesn’t slow down it self-driving car project. Last Friday, Alphabet’ s Google revealed that it has hired Shaun Stewart from Airbnb to come on board as a director on the self-driving car project team. Before joining Google, Stewart was in charge of Airbnb’s vacation rentals business. Prior to that, he was the CEO at Jetsetter before TripAdvisor acquired it.
Stewart joins a crew of new hires who are coming on board to create a business out of Google’s self-driving car project. Earlier this month, the firm hired Tim Papendreou, an expert in transportation policy with the San Francisco city government. The firm has also hired Kevin Vosen as general counsel to help it navigate jump through regulatory hurdles.
Here’s what Stewart can do for Google’s self-driving cars
The departure of Chris Urmson and the arrival of Shaun Stewart might be a good thing for Alphabet’s plan to take self-driving cars to the market. Urmson has been instrumental in creating the technology that made self-driving cars a reality. However, Stewart might be the perfect man for turning that technology into a product/service that consumers would buy and use. Google doesn’t need help building self-driving cars but the firm needs all the help it can get to turn self-driving cars into a business.
Alphabet” s Google has done a great job building software but the firm generally lags in the hardware division and the firm doesn’t usually do a great job of selling its products directly to consumers—be it hardware of software. However, Google needs to sell its cars to consumers as a product or service; hence, the firm needs the expertise of Stewart. Reuters noted that Stewart “is an experienced technology executive specializing in building and scaling businesses.”