Levinson quits Google's board

With his dual service on the boards of both Google and Apple a point of contention, former Genentech Chairman Arthur Levinson departs from one of the posts.

Updated 7:00am PST Tuesday with response from FTC chairman and comment about no other directors left on both boards.

Another executive with ties to both Apple and Google is leaving one company's board of directors.

Arthur Levinson
Arthur Levinson Genentech

Arthur Levinson, former chairman of Genentech, has resigned from Google's board of directors, effective immediately, Google said Monday. A member of Google's board since 2004, Levinson has also served on Apple's board since 2000.

In early August, Google CEO Eric Schmidt resigned from Apple's board of directors.

No specific reason was given for Levinson's exit, but there likely was some degree of pressure to leave one of his two board roles behind. With government probes and competition heating up between Apple and Google, juggling jobs on both company boards had turned into a hot-button issue.

In May, the FTC opened an investigation reportedly to determine if serving on both Apple and Google boards was a violation of antitrust law. Schmidt's August resignation from Apple's board came amid calls for him to resign . At the time, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that as Google enters more of Apple's core business, Schmidt would have had to recuse himself from too many meetings due to conflicts of interest.

Levinson's resignation appeared to please the FTC, prompting its chairman Jon Leibowitz to issue a statement.

"Google, Apple, and Mr. Levinson should be commended for recognizing that overlapping board members between competing companies raise serious antitrust issues and for their willingness to resolve our concerns without the need for litigation," said Leibowitz. "Beyond this matter, we will continue to monitor companies that share board members and take enforcement actions where appropriate."

With Levinson's departure from the Google board, no other individuals on a director level are serving on the boards of both Google and Apple.

Apple and Google have found themselves in the midst of conflict lately. The FCC is currently investigating if and why a Google Voice app for the iPhone was given a thumbs-down by Apple, triggering a he-said, she-said squabble between the two companies .

In July, Apple also restricted Google's Latitude mapping program , allowing it as a Web-based app rather than a native iPhone app.

Google is also trying to become a player in the operating system arena, though it's hardly in a position to compete with Apple at this point. Google's Android OS is targeted to the smartphone, while its proposed Google Chrome OS will battle for a space on the desktops and laptops.

In a statement Monday, Schmidt praised Levinson's tenure on Google's board. "Art has been a key part of Google's success these past five years, offering unvarnished advice and vital counsel on every big issue and opportunity Google has faced," Schmidt said. "Though he leaves as a member of our Board, Art will always have a special place at Google."

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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