Google’s moonshot project to rocket-power U.S. home internet service has, for the second time in less than a year, lost its boss.
First reported by Bloomberg, Gregory McCray is leaving the job of CEO for Access, the Alphabet subsidiary that runs the internet and TV service Google Fiber.
McCray, the former CEO of broadband service company Aero Communications, took over for Craig Barratt several months after that Google Fiber boss left the job. The topsy-turvy executive shift comes as the future of Google Fiber looks increasingly uncertain.
Last fall, Google Fiber announced that it was “pausing” its expansion across the country.
In February, it shifted hundreds of Google Fiber workers at its California headquarters to other divisions.
And in March it told thousands of prospective customers in the Kansas City area that deposits they’d paid to the company — some of them years earlier — for future installments would be refunded and that the company was unsure if it would ever hook them into its network.
When McCray took over Access in February, he said in a company statement that “Google Fiber has been instrumental making the Web faster and better for everyone — something I’ve been passionate about my entire career.”
The company confirmed to The Star that McCray left that job Monday. A spokesperson would not say when he gave notice, but said the company had already begun looking for a replacement.
That spokesperson also said the transition in company leadership won’t alter the service in Kansas City or the eight other markets where Google Fiber sells internet service and TV programming subscriptions.
An announcement in 2010 that Google would launch a home internet service sparked still-uncertain speculation about how far it might take the project. A tech titan built on algorithms and advertising was taking on a service built on construction crews and service calls — not its specialty.
But Google was clear that it wanted to increase home internet speeds because it makes money selling advertisements when people are online. Research has steadily shown that people will stay online longer when their connections are faster.
It ultimately chose the Kansas City market for Google Fiber’s debut, lighting up the first homes in late 2012. Since then, it’s covered much of the market and prompted AT&T and Spectrum (formerly Time Warner Cable) to increase their speeds.
But the company also has butted into the expensive and unpredictable work of stringing thousands of miles of fiber optic cables on utility poles and in underground pipes. It’s mostly halted expansion — both in the Kansas City area and to new markets — while exploring whether it can deliver the same broadband speeds to homes wirelessly.
Last year, it acquired Webpass — a wireless service — and has begun selling wireless home broadband subscriptions in a few pilot projects.
In an emailed statement, Alphabet CEO Larry Page said the company is “committed to the success of Google Fiber.”
“Fiber has a great team and I’m confident we will find an amazing person to lead this important business,” the Page statement said.
Trade journals continue to speculate whether Alphabet might abandon the home internet service and sell Google Fiber to a telecommunications or cable company. If that happened, Google Fiber customers would likely keep their connections but see their service bundled with what that buyer offered.