Reuters last month reported that Google has been bolstering its self-driving car team as of late, and now as April rolls in, we’ve uncovered some more information on new hires as the team continues to expand. In one case, Google has added an ex-Apple global supply manager for the iPhone and the Apple Watch to the self-driving car supply management team…
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Daniel Munoz was at one point a global supply manager for the iPhone, according to his LinkedIn profile, where he “managed over $1B of equipment” and managed “enclosure component supply chain and development concurrently at 10+ Asia based vendors”. He then went on to work on the Apple Watch team under the same title, assumably with similar responsibilities. He joined the Google self-driving car team last month, under the same title.
It appears, though, that bringing him in from Apple might not be surprising, as Head of Supply Chain Operations Tim Willis (who has been at the company since August of 2015) is also ex-Apple according to his LinkedIn profile. There, he was a director of iPhone, Watch, iPod, and accessories global supply management for over 6 years. Furthermore, the self-driving car supply team includes Manufacturing and Supply Chain Leader Mani Krishnamurthi as of April of 2014, also previously a global supply manager at Apple, where he worked on delivering enclosures for Mac Pro, Apple TV, and Airport products. Sameer Kshirsagar is also a global supply manager, but did not come from Apple.
What’s so interesting about this growing team is that many of its members have experience with global supply management of consumer products that sold millions and billions, a stark contrast to the current state of the self-driving car project (which has just 54 cars across 3 states). Most recently, speaking at the California Public Utilities Commission in September of last year, Sarah Hunter, Head of Public Policy at the Google self-driving car project, said that Google still doesn’t even know how it’s going to bring the car to market.
We haven’t decided yet how we’re going to bring this to market. Right now our engineers are trying to figure out the answers to all of the difficult questions…how to make a car genuinely drive itself. Once we figure that out, we’ll figure out how to bring it to market. Is it going to be something we manufacture at scale [or] sell to individuals [or] something that we own and operate as a service? We just don’t know. How people want to use these vehicles is very difficult to predict.
Hiring and continuing to bring in ex-supply managers for products like the iPhone, Mac, and the Apple Watch would perhaps suggest that Google is already eyeing mass market potential for the cars. That wouldn’t be too much of a long shot, considering Tesla’s all-electric Model 3 just managed to snag 276,000 reservations in only a few days. Elon Musk says that part 2 of the Model 3 unveil will “take things to another level,” and that could very possibly mean some sort of fully-autonomous or mostly-autonomous AutoPilot. That would put the Model 3 closer to direct competition with Google’s car.
Other transitions and hirings from last month include Sr. Software Engineer Warren Craddock who heads back to Google[x] after departing the Glass team in 2014 and a short stint in the Machine Intelligence group, Lead CAD Specialist Albert Shane who moved over from Nest (which has been in turmoil lately), and surely many others. In February, Google added Senior Engineer Simon Ellgas to the team who previously worked at BMW, as well as David Hutchison from the Intel Photonics lab.
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