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Alastair Westgarth is the man with the internet balloons

Westgarth is No. 97 on the Recode 100.

When the previous head of Google’s Project Loon left in March after six months on the job, Alastair Westgarth took the helm, beaming balloon-powered internet to remote regions of the world — including some disaster recovery missions.

In the aftermath of this fall’s Hurricane Maria, Project Loon rapidly deployed its balloons over Puerto Rico to give 100,000 residents access to internet and text messages. The Category 4 hurricane had badly damaged the island’s communications infrastructure.

This was the first time Project Loon used its new machine-learning-powered algorithms, which helped keep balloons clustered over Puerto Rico.

Earlier this year, Westgarth — the former CEO of cellular antenna company Quintel —led Project Loon in connecting tens of thousands of residents in flood-ravaged Peru.

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