Alphabet's internet balloon chief leaves after 6 months

It comes after promises that he'd be crucial to Project Loon's launch.

Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images

Alphabet's Project Loon is running into some figurative turbulence in addition to the literal kind. Tom Moore, the satellite executive who was brought on as CEO to help Project Loon become a full-fledged business, has left the leadership position after just 6 months. It's not clear why he's on the way out (neither he nor Alphabet are commenting), but he's being replaced by Alastair Westgarth, a wireless industry veteran best known for turning startups into viable companies. His "vision" for the internet balloon project matches the strategy of Alphabet's X division, "approaching huge programs, at scale, to improve the lives of millions or billions of people," the company says.

While there likely wasn't much drama behind Moore's exit, the departure is notable given how much faith Alphabet had put in him -- he was supposed to be the ticket to making Project Loon more than just a noble experiment. Also, it comes roughly a month after Alphabet scaled back the number of balloons it needs for Project Loon to provide coverage. Moore's leaving and the strategy shift aren't necessarily connected, but it's apparent that he wasn't as crucial to Project Loon's launch as it first seemed. Whatever's going on, it's safe to presume that Alphabet would like a little more stability from here on out.