In 2017, Alphabet’s drone delivery program reemerged following financial tightening during the prior year. Project Wing has now added a former Amazon executive to head operations in a sign that it’s possibly nearing a commercial launch.
Recode today reported on the hire of longtime Amazon executive Faisal Masud by Alphabet. His nine-year tenure at the online retailer includes various commerce roles, including inventory planning, mobile electronics, and leading the company’s generic products brand.
After Amazon, he held similar positions at eBay and Groupon before a four-year stint at Staples as Chief Technology Officer that ended in December.
At Project Wing, he is head of operations and joins the leadership team with current co-heads James Ryan Burgess and Adam Woodworth. Recode speculates that his hire hints that the moonshot is nearing “a commercial launch or graduating to a full-fledged subsidiary of Alphabet.” It is currently operating within the X Moonshot Factory, but could soon become its own division, like Waymo.
An X spokesperson confirmed the hire and noted Masud’s “strong track record of building and scaling new delivery technologies.” However, they only noted that Project Wing “continues developing a drone delivery system that we hope will one day improve the speed, cost and environmental impact of transporting goods.”
Following financial tightening in late 2016 and a failed Starbucks partnership, Project Wing demoed an air traffic management system for drones in June of last year. Later in 2017, it returned to testing deliveries with the public in South East Australia. Wing partnered with another burrito restaurant and pharmacy chain to pilot deliveries.