Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Alphabet drone delivery cancels Starbucks deal

William Payne
November 11, 2016

Google parent Alphabet has cancelled a partnership deal with Starbucks to deliver coffee using flying drones. The two companies reportedly clashed over handling of consumer data. The cancellation comes as two of the leaders of the drone delivery team within Alphabet are reported to have been "pushed out" by the company.

Alphabet's Project Wing, part of its 'moonshot factory' projects, finalised a deal in September with Chipotle to deliver burritos by drone at the Virginia Tech campus. The deal with Starbucks was likely to have been a larger project.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Alphabet had tested drone deliveries with the coffee chain operator. However, Alphabet wanted access to customer data records held by Starbucks, which the latter refused. These disagreements led to a breakdown in relations between the two companies, and finally to the partnership being cancelled.

A report by the Wall Street Journal says that two of Project Wing's leaders have been "pushed out". David Voss was the project chief. Sean Mullaney was Project Wing's commercial manager. Both left the company in October. Their exit followed clashes between engineers within the group and its commercial team.

Alphabet has also issued notices to several other workers within the team, giving them 90 days to find work elsewhere within Alphabet or leave the company.

In June, Tony Fadell, former chief executive of Alphabet's smart home start-up Nest announced that he was leaving the company. 

Another major departure was Chris Urmson, chief technology officer of Alphabet's self driving car programme, who left the company in August. The same month, Alphabet's investment head Bill Maris also left the company.