Google today announced that Arthur Levinson is leaving the Google board post he’s had since 2004. The resignation comes amid increased regulatory scrutiny over his membership as a director of both the top Internet search company and Apple. You’ll recall that Google CEO Eric Schmidt quit Apple’s board two months ago over similar scrutiny. Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, was quoted at the time as saying that Google had entered too many of Apple’s core businesses for Schmidt to continue (even though he was supposedly working only for Apple gear).
At the time, Google CEO, Eric Schmidt encouraged Levinson to stay on both boards but legal pressure forced the former Genentech CEO to resign today.
Google CEO and Chairman Eric Schmidt described Levinson as a good friend and valued colleague. "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 on Monday. "Though he leaves as a member of our Board, Art will always have a special place at Google."
"Working with Eric, Larry, Sergey and the whole Google team has been a remarkable experience for me. I greatly admire what they’ve built and have no doubt that Google has a terrific future," said Levinson.
It is interesting that he chose to give up his Google seat and not his Apple seat.
Google and Apple have increasingly been at odds lately. While Google has been entering Apple’s OS markets, Apple has been busy plugging the Google holes. Apple purchased mapping company Placebase in July, likely to replace – or just to insure it has an answer to Google Maps.
Update: The NYTimes reports FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz
…praised the decision by Mr. Levinson and the companies. “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,” Mr. Leibowitz said in a statement. “Beyond this matter, we will continue to monitor companies that share board members and take enforcement actions where appropriate.”