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Google’s Cybersecurity Project Chronicle Is In Trouble

Chronicle started as a project within X, the Alphabet-owned moonshot factory, until it became its own cybersecurity company under Google’s parent corporation. It was supposed to be an independent startup with its own contracts and policies — at least, that’s what CEO Stephen Gillett wrote when the business was launched. In June this year, though, Chronicle lost its status as an independent entity when it formally joined Google to become part of its Cloud security offerings. And according to a new report by Motherboard, that was one of the biggest reasons why Chronicle is “imploding.”

Apparently, a lot of Chronicle employees only found out about becoming part of Google at a meeting the day of the announcement. Some felt that the move betrayed the startup’s original vision. Employees’ compensation also became a sore point, because the tech giant reportedly didn’t adjust Chronicle staffers’ salaries and stock packages, which were lower than those for other Google employees.

But that’s not all: the employees Motherboard talked to said people have been leaving the company due to “a distant CEO” and “a lack of clarity about Chronicle’s future.” A former employee called Gillett a figurehead who didn’t care what everyone did outside of money matters. Sales and engineering people have apparently been finding other roles in Google or leaving the company entirely, because they have no product roadmap.

Gillett himself already left for another role inside Google, while co-founder and chief security Mike Wiacek exited the tech giant. “Chronicle had one of the most healthy and vibrant corporate cultures I could imagine. Things were never perfect, but that’s important,” Wiacek wrote in his farewell note. Motherboard says Will Robinson, the Chief Technology Officer, also announced internally that he’s leaving the company.

It’s not entirely clear where Chronicle will go from here. Before getting folded into Google, it announced its first commercial product, Backstory, which Gillett compared to Google Photos. Companies can dump data from, say, employees’ devices or servers into it, and it’ll analyze the information to automatically and quickly identify threats. Motherboard was able to talk to at least one employee who said they were happy working at Chronicle, though, and that the team is working on new products other than Backstory.

In response, Google engineering VP Sunil Potti told Engadget that Chronicle was “critical” to Google’s security business goals, and that the company was “investing aggressively” in the team. You can read the full statement below. This doesn’t necessarily represent a bleak end, then. However, the scoop suggests that bouncing back may involve addressing some substantial issues.―Engadget

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