Google has brought in a former Airbnb executive to lead commercialization of its self-driving cars.
Shaun Stewart served as a top executive for Airbnb’s online vacation home rental marketplace. Airbnb has become a popular mobile app in the newly-emerging “shared economy,” gaining ubiquitous brand identity similar to Uber’s.
Stewart will serve as a director of the self-driving car project, Google spokesman Johnny Luu told Automotive News.
Stewart played a pivotal role in building and scaling Airbnb. He’d also developed his technology expertise as CEO of Jetsetter, a company that had been acquired by TripAdvisor.
His role assisting the commercialization of its self-driving technology comes during a year Google has been developing the business unit.
Chris Urmson, chief technical officer of the project and spokesman for the technology, left the company earlier this month. He’d been the project leader until ex-Hyundai U.S. top executive John Krafcik came to Google last year as the project’s CEO. Krafckik will work with Stewart and two other recent hires, general counsel Kevin Vosen and Tim Papandreou, a former San Francisco city official considered to be an expert in transportation policy.
Google forged an alliance with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on self-driving cars in May. Its self-driving test project has expanded to four cities over the past year, and the technology giant opened an engineering tech center in Michigan. It’s been part of Urmson’s prediction last year that Google will ready for self-driving technology production by 2020.