Davidson wrote in his e-mail to employees that he will take a “sabbatical” later in the month to “explore other opportunities.”
He said in an e-mail exchange: “I’m very excited,” but referred this reporter to spokespeople at the firm for further comment.
In 2005 Davidson became Google’s first employee in D.C., an engineer and attorney known to champion Internet policy issues such as net neutrality and anti-censorship of the Web.
Since then, the company has grown and moved into a large operation of dozens of employees in their downtown space. Google spent $2.3 million on lobbying expenses in the third quarter of the year, double its expenditures from the same quarter of 2010.
“When I started at Google none of us really knew how the Internet, and this company, would grow and change,” Davidson wrote to colleagues and tech policy partners outside the company. “The mobile, cloud, and social technologies just taking hold then are now full-on revolutions today.”
More recently, Davidson has had to contend with investigations of the company’s privacy practices by the Federal Trade Commission. The agency settled with the company over complaints about its social network, Google Buzz, which exposed contact lists of e-mail users. The company also implemented privacy training after investigations into its scooping of Wi-Fi data around the world from its Street View mapping cars.
Google’s purchase of the ITA travel site was approved by antitrust regulators, and the company’s bid for Motorola Mobility is currently being reviewed. But lawmakers have grilled the company, including its chairman, Eric Schmidt, over Google’s placement of advertisements, which competitors say unfairly puts them at a disadvantage.
And Davidson has pushed for U.S. support of Google’s operations in China, where it temporarily left last year in protest of censorship by the local government.
Here is Davidsom’s memo:
From: Alan Davidson