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Google's balloon-fueled internet venture gets a new leader

The X research lab names Tom Moore the new general manager for Project Loon.

Ian Sherr Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. At CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
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Former team leader Mike Cassidy (pictured above) will continue to work at the research lab on new projects.

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Alphabet's research and development arm, called X, named Tom Moore the new team leader for one of its highest profile efforts Tuesday.

By high profile, we mean that literally. Moore is taking over Project Loon, Alphabet's effort to launch balloons that beam internet connections to remote areas of the world.

Project Loon first lifted off in 2013, when its balloons were sent over rural communities in New Zealand. Since then, Alphabet has sent test balloons to other areas like Indonesia and Puerto Rico.

Alphabet isn't the only company doing this. Facebook is working on an internet-beaming drone called the Aquila, Space X plans to launch clusters of cheap, low-flying satellites to spread the internet, while Sir Richard Branson wants to build the world's largest satellite constellation to offer internet around the globe

Former project leader Mike Cassidy will remain at X -- aka the "moonshot factory," where cost seems to be no object -- working on new research projects when Moore, a co-founder of satellite broadband service provider WildBlue Communications, steps in as Loon's general manager in mid-September.