Calls for Genentech Inc.chairman Arthur Levinson to quit either the board of Apple Inc. or the board of Google Inc. are increasing, following on the heels of Monday’s news that Google CEO Eric Schmidt has stepped down from Apple’s board.
Competition between Apple and Google has been heating up — especially with Google’s foray into the operating system business with Chrome, announced last month. The FTC has been investigating the overlap between the two boards for potential antitrust violations. Last week, the FCC said it would probe Apple’s decision to block Google Voice as an application for Apple’s iPhone.
"It took Eric Schmidt far to long too realize that the two roles are incompatible; that’s not surprising considering the clubby atmosphere of Silicon Valley," says John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog. "We’re glad Schmidt finally did the right thing; we call on Levinson to act responsibly and choose one company or the other."
Genentech has other ties to Google, points out Simpson, including co-investing with the search engine leader in 23andMe, the genetic testing startup co-founded by Anne Wojcicki, the wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin. 23andMe has raised a reported $22.6 million from the two companies as well as from venture capital firms Mohr Davidow Ventures and New Enterprise Associates.
Consumer Watchdog is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that is also pushing the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to insist on guarantees of user privacy before agreeing to the 10-year deal between Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo! Inc.