Art Levinson Bails on Google Board Amid FTC Probe [UPDATED]
Former Genentech chairman and CEO Art Levinson has resigned from Google’s board, where he has been a director since April 2004. No reason was given for his departure, though his presence on both the Google (GOOG) and Apple (AAPL) boards, and the Federal Trade Commission inquiry into possible implications of such dual memberships, surely played a role.
This past July, Google CEO Eric Schmidt left Apple’s board presumably for the same reason. The cozy relationship between the companies, which increasingly compete in the cellphone and operating systems markets, had led the FTC to question whether close ties between their boards of directors violate antitrust laws. With Schmidt gone from Apple’s board room and Levinson gone from Google’s, it would seem there’s no longer reason for the FTC to do so.
“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 in a statement. “Though he leaves as a member of our Board, Art will always have a special place at Google.”
Though not nearly as special as his place at Apple, where his remaining board seat and true allegiances clearly lie.
UPDATE:Levinson’s resignation from Apple’s board appears to have appeased the FTC. “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,” FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement. “Beyond this matter, we will continue to monitor companies that share board members and take enforcement actions where appropriate.”