Google’s general counsel is stepping up to a new position at the search giant, leaving a high-profile job opening in his wake.
The Mountain View, California-based company confirmed Monday that Kent Walker has been promoted from senior vice president and general counsel to senior vice president of global affairs. In the position, according to a CNBC report, he’ll oversee the company’s legal, policy, trust and safety and corporate philanthropy teams.
The announcement comes as Google continues to reckon with several high-profile challenges, including this month’s $5 billion antitrust penalty, compliments of the European Commission. Google is appealing the massive fine, which was levied against the company for allegedly violating antitrust laws with its Android phone system.
As general counsel, Walker, 57, managed Google’s global team and advised its board. In his new role, CNBC reported, Walker “will publicly represent the company on a range of broader issues like the future of work, artificial intelligence, and the role of tech companies in society.”
Last year, Walker stood alongside counsel for Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc., whose general counsel announced recently that he was leaving the company at the end of the year, during congressional hearings over Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Google was “deeply concerned,” Walker said at the time. He also told lawmakers that the company was “founded with the mission of organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful.”
“The abuse of the tools and platforms we build is antithetical to that mission,” he said.
Walker will reportedly head up a team that includes Google’s head of policy, Karan Bhatia, its head of trust and safety, Kristie Canagello and Jacquelline Fuller, who leads the philanthropic Google.org.
A Stanford Law alum, Walker served as an assistant U.S. attorney early in his career and prosecuted tech-related crimes in the 1990s. He was eBay Inc.’s deputy general counsel before he joined Google, and has also spent time working at Netscape and AOL. According to CNBC, Google has yet to fill the general counsel position Walker has left behind.
Walker isn’t the first big name Silicon Valley general counsel to take a broader and more business-facing role in recent years. His counterpart at Microsoft Corp., Brad Smith, was similarly promoted from general counsel to president and CLO in 2015.
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