Facebook is taking a punt on a former Google employee to be part of its Internet connectivity team. Kevin Lo is the ex-Google man Facebook feels would do a good job being Director of Infrastructure Connectivity and Investments.
The news, which was first broken by tech site Recode, and is now seriously trending in the tech world, is important for several reasons. It shows Facebook’s intent and desire to be a strong player in the wireless technology field. Or if possible the number one player in that niche. Flowing from that desire, who best to hire than a man who at one time was the General Manager of Google Fiber, a hugely successful project that is rolling out with slow intent across the United States. Google Fiber offers connectivity speeds of up to 1 gigabits per second and is already being used in some cities in the US.
Lo started working with Google six years ago and resigned last year. Apparently, he was one of the casualties of the reorganization of Google that saw the tech giant evolve into Alphabet to act as a parent company of the many firms that are part of Google. While at Google, Lo actually co-founded Google’s Fiber initiative. His main job description as manager was to articulate the business strategy and direct day to day operations at Fiber. Clearly, he was a major actor in the success of Google Fiber. So leaving Fiber last year was a mystery of sort. Perhaps he wanted something new to do. Or Google felt he was one exec too many as Alphabet came on stream.
Though Facebook has not announced or confirmed the news yet, Mr Lo himself has already done so on his Facebook page with a rather long status update that read like a very polite letter to his friends for breaking a promise:
Over 4B people are not online, and the majority who do use the Internet live on ‘2G’ speeds. The Internet can provide new opportunities for engagement, education and economic growth. However, it’s become increasingly clear that we’re leaving a lot of folks behind.
So I’m excited to let you know I’m joining Facebook this month as Director of Infrastructure Connectivity and Investments. I’ll help shape our strategy and investments with partners to build wireless technologies and ecosystems that improve global connectivity.
Facebook has worked hard over the last decade to make the world more open and connected — from partner oriented initiatives like OCP and TIP, to new wireless connectivity technologies and long haul fiber optic cables. I’m thrilled about the opportunity to work with like-minded colleagues in leveraging Facebook’s open and collaborative approach to innovation.
Moving global connectivity forward is a big challenge. If you share our passion to connect the whole world, please reach out!
So what are his likely responsibilities at Facebook? As a man versed in doing business with partners, he would be in charge of coordinating Facebook’s input in projects such as Terragraph, a huge initiative designed to link large or dense urban areas to cheap Wi-Fi networks. Another project that he would help coordinate on behalf of Facebook is the recent partnership with Microsoft to build a submarine fiber optic cable connecting the US and Europe.
This is the second time in recent times that Facebook decided to hire somebody linked with Google. In April, the company hired Regina Dugan to lead the new research facility known as Building 8. She came highly qualified with an impressive resume. She left Google as the head of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects division. Before that though, she was the first woman to lead The Defense Advanced Research Projects, a research Institute of the US Department of Defense which is in the business of developing new technologies and gadgets for the US military.
We wish Lo all the best in his new role at Facebook.
photo credit: fortune.com; adweek.com; verge.com; 9to5google.com;