Alphabet Inc.’s high-speed internet business is undergoing another shake-up as its leader, Gregory McCray, is stepping down. The company is looking for a replacement. McCray was hired in February as chief executive officer of Access, the Alphabet unit that houses Google Fiber. He joined the tech giant after Craig Barratt, the former Access boss, exited in October when a big, expensive expansion plan he created was cut back. “We are committed to the success of Google Fiber. The team is bringing gigabit connections to more and more happy customers,” Alphabet CEO Larry Page said in a statement. “Fiber has a great team and I’m confident we will find an amazing person to lead this important business.” The reasons for McCray’s sudden departure are still unclear, but he didn’t have a smooth start at Alphabet. He made comments during his first address to Access staff that upset several employees and prompted multiple reports to human resources, according to two people familiar with the meeting. At the meeting, held in March, McCray was asked about his passion for sailing, which Page mentioned in an introductory email. McCray said that his wife would often call his boat his “mistress.” Every man was entitled to a mistress, the new CEO proclaimed to audible gasps, said the people who asked not to be identified discussing company matters. Multiple women reported the incident to the HR divisions of Access and Alphabet, the people said. An Alphabet spokeswoman declined to comment. McCray didn’t respond to multiple calls and text messages.
A few years ago, Google Fiber was a big priority, partly due to its potential to disrupt a US broadband market ruled by a few telecommunications and cable giants. It began offering gigabit internet packages in a handful of cities, such as Kansas City and Austin, Texas. Then, in early 2014, Fiber announced sweeping plans to expand to more than 20 cities. Two years later, the Access division acquired Webpass, a wireless internet provider active in several cities. Alphabet Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat frequently named Google Fiber as a large-but-necessary capital expense.
But then Alphabet pulled back suddenly. When Barratt stepped down, Google Fiber said it was halting plans to expand into eight additional markets. In April, two of Barratt’s top deputies also left.