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Alphabet drone project axes execs amid 'infighting,' report says

Alphabet Google
Pascal Rossignol | Reuters

The heads of Alphabet's drone-delivery project are out amid infighting, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, in yet another shake-up of Google's moonshot projects.

The ousting of two of Alphabet's drone leaders was due to a dispute between the engineers and commercial team, sources told the Journal. Chief Dave Vos and Wing's top commercial executive, Sean Mullaney, were "pushed out," according to the Journal's sources.

Bloomberg, meanwhile, reported that Project Wing had nixed a partnership with Starbucks.

Fortune had reported Vos' departure in October, when Alphabet said Vos had "helped to build a strong foundation of aviation culture on the team." Alphabet's Project Wing had recently made headlines for a pilot program that will deliver Chipotle burritos to Virginia Tech students. Vos announced ambitions a year ago to begin drone package deliveries in 2017.

An Alphabet spokeswoman told CNBC that the company is wholeheartedly committed to Project Wing, and the team is moving forward at full steam. The company confirmed Vos' October departure but did not comment on other members of the team.

"What we're doing now is developing the next phase of our technology and, as always, are thinking in a very broad way about all the potential use cases for delivery by unmanned aerial system. While there's still a lot of work to be done, we believe that opening the skies to faster, more efficient transportation of goods is a moonshot worth pursuing," the company said.

For the full story, see the article at WSJ.com.

It would be the latest in a string of high-profile departures since Google reorganized, separating its "other bets," such as Google Fiber, Nest, Verily and its venture capital arm, from its core services (such as search, ads, devices, Maps, YouTube, Android, Chrome.)

The company's modular phone, Project Ara, was scrapped this year, Google's Fiber was scaled back, and smart home unit Nest underwent reorganization. With the shuffle, executives like Tony Fadell also left, stoking concerns that the company was losing key innovators.

Still, the company's chief financial officer, Ruth Porat, has defended Google's financial discipline, saying the company wanted to focus on efforts that enhance the company's "effectiveness and efficiency."

"How fast can we discover that we're wrong, get rid of those ideas or evolve them from where they currently are, to correctly pointed ideas?'" Astro Teller, the head of X , Alphabet's innovation lab, said in a Tuesday interview with The Verge.