02
Jul
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Well, this isn't great news - the guy responsible for designing Project Ara as part of Google's ATAP team (and previously, at Motorola), which Google picked up as part of the Motorola-Lenovo acquisition, is leaving! Dan Makoski is headed to another company to work on more amazing, innovative, interesting, game-changing products. Just kidding: he's going to work for a bank. Capital One, to be precise. He has this to say about it:

  1. there are few spaces as ripe for technology and human-inspired re-imagination as how people relate to their money,
  2. Capital One has been steadily building a quiet but extraordinary design thinking, strategy and execution culture on top of its already legendary data analytics capability,
  3. and when you stir the above and throw in the spark of vision & leadership:

*boom.

Makoski has been one of the driving forces behind Ara, standing beside the project's current head, Paul Eremenko, since its inception. Makoski has a longer history with Ara, though, having been on the Motorola ATAP team since June 2012, while Eremenko only joined up in April 2013, so it's difficult to tell just what kind of effect Makoski's departure will have on the Ara project overall.

Of course, the Ara team will likely be reassuring us in the hours or days ahead that's everything's proceeding according to plan, though having your chief designer bail (or his contract end) before the product is even ready for primetime probably isn't the best thing in the world that could happen. Just maybe. Makoski, for the record, did not speak during the ATAP presentation at this year's Google I/O.

Update: As some of you have pointed out, ATAP team members have 2-year work contracts because of the DARPA-style rapid iteration product cycles that ATAP head Regina Dugan has mandated. Makoski clearly chose to exercise his right to terminate at the end of that 2 years, though it's not clear at this time if he had an option to renew, though it sounds like he may not have.

Dan Makoski via 9to5Google

David Ruddock
David's phone is an HTC One. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, imparting a legal perspective on tech news, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Christopher Bement

    Guess I'll be the first to say it, f*ck this guy. Next.

    • RarestName

      (ಠ_ಠ)

    • niuguy

      Seems unnecessary. Wait. ...did he sleep with your sister?

      • Christopher Bement

        Possibly, but it seems to be a trend for top Googlers to leave after Sergei slept with a loved one.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Since when is it OK to say "fuck you" to a random person you've never met who did something as normal as switch jobs? What the fuck is wrong with you?

      • niuguy

        But its the internet! No rules! No mercy!

      • http://shanked.me/ Shank

        Artem, you give AP character. You're awesome.

      • Guest

        Did you just internet just now?

      • mustbepbs

        This here is why I come to AP. The staff isn't afraid to point out bullshit in the comment section.

      • Christopher Bement

        Let me rephrase it: Fuck the sensationalist titles. [Panic?] Come on. What I mean, was, who really cares? Ara is comprised of how many innovators? Let him change jobs. I hope it works out. But fuck him because I don't know him and don't really care what he does to improve a major bank's technology. Capital One has a VERY long way to go in that respect, anyway.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          "Fuck sensationalist titles" is completely unrelated to "fuck this guy" in your original comment. That's not rephrasing, that's stating something totally different.

          • Christopher Bement

            It is, you're right. I was reaching. But the original comment was more meant as "who cares?" than "literally fuck this asshole I know nothing about).

    • Rodolfo

      Looks like you'll be the only one to say it

  • Daniel Antón García

    Money, Money and even more money

  • mlj11

    Wonder how much of a role the Ara phone not booting up on stage might have played in this?

  • Tony Byatt

    "Straight cash homie"

    -Randy Moss

  • RarestName

    Money talks.

    • MeCampbell30

      Bullshit walks.

      • John Repetti

        How can bullshit walk?

        That's slang, huh?

        • polesmoker99

          It can if a crazy wizard deems it so.

          • Mayoo

            Wizards normally decide to "not pass", not walk!

        • Rodolfo

          How can money talk?

  • Sam Keaser

    What an ass.

    Project Ara is reimagining of how we interact with the digital world. Capital One is catching up with companies like Simple and Square. Whatever the real reason he left, it sure as hell wasn't for want of innovation.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      If I had a choice between designing a modular smartphone and potentially being friends with Alec Baldwin and Samuel L. Jackson WHILE making buckets and buckets of money, I might have to go with the latter.

      COME ON MAN IT'S ALEC BALDWIN

      • Sam Keaser

        Wait, you're right, I forgot Baldwin.

        I mean, honestly, that man's voice is angelic.

    • Seiga

      If it was for money, I'd understand. If Google isn't offering what Capital One is offering, who wouldn't go and take the money, especially since, chances are, he will be working in a similar skill set field.

      Everyone has their own intentions. A lot of cases, it involves money. You'd be lying otherwise.

      Let's get philosophical shall we. Even if your own intention is to be selfless and help others, it's still your own intentions and no one else.

      So no, he's not an Ass. And you don't know his real intentions. Just cause he is going to dedicate himself to another project that's not to your liking (innovative or not) does not equate to a Jackass person. It makes you sound more selfish.

      Also, here's a thought... .but... Google owns the patents to Project Ara. Design and Implementation. Who's to say that Google has something already setup for Project Ara after this news. Just cause he's no longer with Google doesn't mean that Ara has to stop.

      FYI. Project Ara isn't reimagining how we interact with the Digital World. Project Tango is doing more reimagining of the digital world.

    • Cat Astrophy

      No they just ripped off PhoneBloks. No innovation.

      • Chad S

        Wrong. They were working on project Ara long before PhoneBloks ever was announced.

        • Cat Astrophy

          PhoneBloks was announced during Project Ara development but worked on before Project Ara was being worked on. Projects don't get announced the first day they are worked on.

  • Laurence

    People in this comments thread are so ridiculous. "Ugh, he just wants money, so distasteful". Like you would never switch jobs if you were offered a big raise.

    • http://hudsongardner.com/ Hudson Gardner

      If you don't like what you do every day all the money in the world is worthless

      • matt

        Worthless? Not really, especially if it's so much you can retire after a couple years and do whatever you want for the next 50.

        • http://hudsongardner.com/ Hudson Gardner

          Good point

      • http://www.jaxidian.org/update teh Jax

        I'm sorry, where was the press release where Dan announced he was going to hate his new job and was just a sellout? I missed that. I did, however, see a blog post that sounded like he landed an amazing opportunity to enact some change in an industry that has traditionally been opposed to said changes!

        Link please?

        • http://hudsongardner.com/ Hudson Gardner

          It's true, well said.

      • Kylecore

        Money is always worth something. Your thoughts, feelings and pleasures aren't.

      • Rovex

        Or maybe Google arent as good to work for as some like to think.

      • Seiga

        Hudson, you couldn't be farther from the truth. Some people work to provide for the family. Meaning, they may not enjoy their every day work, but they enjoy their family in the end. And money just helps out with that regardless if you like or don't like where you work. Go to a lousy job, but come home to paradise.

        Life is all about Give and Take.

    • MJ

      I get the feeling the people who complain about others moving to another job for more money are the same ones when Android Police reviews a new app and freak that it's $1.

  • http://www.jaxidian.org/update teh Jax

    This guy is leaving because his employment contract ended as scheduled 2 years ago.

    • Derek Traini

      This.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      And he chose not to renew. Pretty sure there'd be an option if he wanted it.

      • Nathan Borup

        I don't think he could have. I thought the whole idea behind project ara was innovation, and they were going to enforce that by having 2 year working contracts to get new people in after 2 years are up. Good way of bringing in new ideas

        • Mayoo

          Careful when you use the word "innovation". Some may decide to patent troll on you.

          • Nathan Borup

            lol yeah i guess thats true

          • HispanicDevilDog

            So do people have to say "Allegedly Innovate" So they don't get trolled patent? Lol

      • Trent Russell

        This is completely false. He described the situation very clearly at the Ara dev conference.

      • matt

        2 years to develop a modular cell phone system seems overly ambitious if that's what they hoped for.

      • http://www.jaxidian.org/update teh Jax

        Let's pretend he chose to not renew. What's the big deal? This is what's in the cards when people are employed as contract employees rather than normal full-time employees. And it's very typical for a contract employee to line up their next job to coincide with when their current contract ends. This is normal and is something that both sides on the contract plan for, agree on, and expect.

        It is the natural order of things and nobody should be judging Dan for this one bit!

        • John Smith

          I agree - I lined up my next contract job a few weeks before my current contract ended. At the time, my manager said "we'll hire you full time!" I called his bluff. I was right due to a hiring freeze. The scheduled work was no longer my problem...

          • http://www.jaxidian.org/update teh Jax

            Yup! I've been a contracting software consultant for years. Even if they want to hire you fulltime, there are absolutely no expectations that you must accept. As a contractor, you incur many extra (serious) risks, expenses, and overheads. As such, you need to have contingency plans and a sales pipeline for yourself. Waiting and playing "what if" games costs you a LOT of money and employers understand this. This is all part of doing business this way for both sides.

      • Kareem Ayman

        They stated in the ATAP presentation that people who join only work there for 2 years.

    • polesmoker99

      He still sounds like a douche.

      • http://www.jaxidian.org/update teh Jax

        Why? Did he bite your dog or something? You sure seem quick to judge.

        • polesmoker99

          He slept with my mum and never called her. :(

          • Lars Jeppesen

            Was that before or after you were born?

          • polesmoker99

            During my birth, actually.

  • polesmoker99

    This guy looks like someone who would drop his mic as he walks off stage, but gets tangled up in the cord and trips as he does.

  • remister

    What's in your Wallet?
    Not Google paychecks!

  • EdLessard

    Oh no!!! Project Ara is DEAD!!! Just like Google+!!!! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH. Sorry, trying to get out in front of the panic before the trend.

    • EdLessard

      On a related note, I hate how much credit people give the lead on projects for what is produced. Hasn't anyone ever worked any where, ever? Does the boss really do all the work, or is it the rest of us? I'm talking about people like Matias Duarte and Sir Ives. Not that they aren't great, but there are a "couple of people" giving them a hand.

  • WORPspeed

    Better now than after it shipped, then people will lose faith even if the initial product was good. Now at least they have the opportunity to redeem themselves by bringing out a good product!

  • SVem26

    I'll just leave this here..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHdLwqUktWg

    • PoisonApple31

      Is that title correct? Isn't that Laurence Fishburne?

      • Stacey Liu

        No.

  • Full Time Titty Master

    Chief designers these days in big corporations is just someone that watches over the real designers and engineers and they never actually get their hands dirty, not a big loss imo

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I take it you're speaking from experience as a full time executive titty master.

      • Full Time Titty Master

        oh sh!te I forgot again to change my profile back after trolling a wrestling site, I've worked at a big company that Microsoft swallowed, was only there a couple years but its just layer on top of layer of people with important names and the real workers dont even know what those guys even actually do

  • Stephen Liu

    To everyone getting their panties in a twist about this, Dan left ATAP because they only work two year contracts, and his two years were up. That's literally all that happened.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/77537273@N03/ Herman

    I'll take his place :')

  • exadeci

    100 Will get the ARA https://dscout.com/ara (I should have participed more ><)

  • Trent Russell

    His two years at ATAP were up. Each member of the team rotates every two years.

    edit: kneejerk redacted. I suggest you look into the terms of his departure.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      The piece has been updated to reflect this. It still doesn't bode well that the 2-year contract he had did not result in a finished product. As I recall, the point of the contract length is to ensure team members *finish* their products before their contract expires, not pack up halfway through the development cycle.

      • Dominic Powell

        Yeah but his two year contract as a designer in ATAP may have been before Ermanenko and Ara came to fruition. He could have been working on things like touchless control and active display at motorola prior to Ara and hence only worked for 1 year on Ara and 1 year on other things. Until the exact details are known, no need to panic

      • Stephen Liu

        I'd suggest actually reaching out to Dan and talking to him before jumping to kneejerk reactions and making these assumptions.

        Because in the end, you're still making assumptions about his intentions and about the two year cycle/contract, and I'm rather unamused at this style of reporting.

    • MarkG54321

      Press looking like news hungry idiots yet again.

  • Phteven

    This just in: Google just purchased Capitol One because they heard how innovative they are.

  • Arthur

    Oh well, his loss. He didn't make and isn't going to break ATAP or Project Ara, business as usual will commence.

  • chris125

    First they couldn't get the devices booting now this. Project ara isn't off to a good start

    • KojiroAK

      Ara is moonshot project, they rather give insight on early stages of the project.
      Most devices you see are in a nearly final stage.

      You would have to compare it to other projects halfway in.

  • KojiroAK

    He was the designer and how it looks the design is rather done.
    What should had he have done? Back painting designs? Wallpapers?

    I think it was simply, that there wasn't much to do for him anymore.

    For now, the project rather needs engineers and software developers.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      There are always things for a chief designer to do on a big project. Always.

      • KojiroAK

        Well, the other question is, how much would it serve the project at the current state? Especially in regards of the strong points he has.

        Admittetly it might be they still need a designer, but it could be they found someone who has strong points in other fields that are beneficial to the project at its current state.

        I highly doubt Google has problems finding high skilled people for projects like this.

        And like someone else allready pointed out, they might also want someone with a different view on the whole project.
        Someone who might find issues that a long running guy wouldn't find.

        Overall I think it's neither a gready move of the guy nor a dooming omen for the project just the way Google handles this sorts of projects.

    • NexusKoolaid

      Engineers and software developers left to themselves are a lot like those rabbid cartoon characters. Design oversight for projects like this tends to carry on until the product ships.

      • KojiroAK

        It could also be, that his special set of skills weren't those, it was believed the project needs. And it could even be, that one who thought so was himself.

        Good leaders aren't those who can do it all, but those who know what they can't.

        And with Google on his CV he pretty sure knew he won't have much issues to get an other intersting good paying job especially if Google gave him a good reference.

        So I think this change neither means he was just out for more money nor does it mean the project is doomed.

        The core of projects like ARA is to have the right person at the right time in the right position sometimes this means to let go people and therefore get in some others.

  • Peter Blanco

    I know what's in his wallet.

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    It really does sound like he had no option to renew his contract, why would he leave this project and go work for a bank? can life get any more boring?.

    • Wesley Modderkolk

      Yeah, like he's going to be one of those office people at desks filling in numbers(or w/e it is they do). What he had to say about it, it sounds rather interesting.

      Not everyone wants to do the same thing for the rest of their lives, many people constantly seek new challenges, and this sounds like quite the challenge.

  • pepe

    Capital One is a shitty bank.

    • Just_Some_Nobody

      There are no non-shitty banks.

  • williamworlde

    fkjadfk

  • Justin Gamer

    I was CEO of Samsung 2 years ago :)

    • Cherokee4life

      I'm sorry?...

  • williamworlde

    Maybe I'm becoming just as cynical about my technologists as my politicians. Who the EFF (self-censored) cares?!

    People change jobs ALL the time. Two years is the new maximum; I couldn't see myself beyond that if I had a regular 9 – 5 (as opposed to my wonderful, irregular-houred one).

    Unless it's a CEO or CIO change, i.e., those with the power to alter companies' entire directions, not just a subset, what's the ongoing fascination?

  • TheLastAngel

    This whole Ara thing is likely going nowhere. They are trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist. Yeah right, consumers are going right back to shopping for processors, RAM and screens...

    DELUSIONAL

    • Wesley Modderkolk

      For people who want the best all the time, there is quite a problem. Paying $700,- for a brand new phone while you 3-month old one still works fine takes quite a chunk out of your budget.

      So then switching the CPU(for example) saves quite a bit of money.

      Also, it creates a new market for companies.

      • campusten

        Well, I don't know if modular phones are really going to appeal to people who want the latest and greatest since they'll inevitably be bulkier and heavier than a non-modular phone. That said (and I think this is the whole point of the project) it'll appeal to those who don't have a smartphone yet, like in developing countries, and want a cheap product with only the components and features they really need and the promise that they won't have to pay for a whole new device in the foreseeable future.

        • Wesley Modderkolk

          I like to see it in the same way as you do for a PC. Some people buy a brand new one, while others select one themselves and upgrade it from time to time. This consumes a big part of the PC market, so logically one would assume that so there will be a market for it in mobile devices. It is yet to see how much people care about the bulkiness and weight of their device.

          I do not mind a bulkier phone, and neither do I mind the weight. I actually prefer heavier devices because it actually puts feel to it, but tastes differ. I'm looking forward toward what Project Ara brings, and I hope it brings options without a '70s wallpaper as a cover.

    • KojiroAK

      I think the german newspaper publishers said similar things about different things on the internet.

    • Pascal

      Yop, on PC only few people, who understand it build their own pc. And who will use this? Again only few people.

  • AbbyZFresh

    I never really cared that much of Ara anyway. I never saw this appealing to the masses outside of techies.

  • Ara Person

    I guess I'm one of the few people that is extremely excited about the Ara Project. The hardware design already seems to be set in stone so i hope the chief designer leaving is too big of a speed bump.

  • Rovex

    Maybe, just maybe, Google aren't as good to work for as some like to suggest. You have to admit some of their almost bi-polar decisions have been infuriating.

    • Brad

      Or he left to make more money elsewhere just like anyone else in the world.

      • Rovex

        Im just suggesting options. Not everything I hear about Google is good, some people I know have described them as insufferable to work for.

  • Bob G

    Another great misleading post by David!

  • Owen Finn

    "What's in your wallet?"
    "No, seriously sir - what is in your wallet, and your pockets?" - Google Security

  • Sexus5

    Should've bought a nexus.

  • Guest

    Dammit

  • coolsilver

    What annoyed me the most is that Ara focus is being placed on developing areas. That's fine but I don't see it being executed well. I don't see outside of US or other tech centric areas adopting the hardware upgrades. It's a start. I hope the ATAP team makes things work.

  • John Smith

    There's a major lack of *good* Android engineers currently - any manager insisting on hiring through a 2 year contract is making a mistake.

  • pc jona

    sounds like this is a fail article that needs to be removed because someone didn't do their research and is trying to justify the article by saying "well it still doesn't look good and it should have been done by now" yea OK professional go work for Google then.

  • Just_Some_Nobody

    Good. I didn't like his glasses.