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:


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