About a decade ago, Google cofounder Larry Page handed Luc Vincent a task. The Frenchman was to oversee a collaboration with Stanford University on a seemingly preposterous new project.
Vincent initially toiled on the task during his 20% time – Google’s famous system that allows employees to work on side projects – but the effort soon occupied more than just 20% of his time and turned into one of Google’s most famous products: Google Street View.
“That was a fun time at Google. We were small, probably about the same size as Lyft today,” Vincent told Business Insider.
After 12 years at the search giant, Vincent has left the company and joined ride-hailing company Lyft as its VP of Engineering, having started on Monday. He will oversee the marketplace and mapping teams and report to Lyft’s VP of Engineering, Peter Morelli.
His experience in mapping – and its crucial function to ride-hailing apps – is a big boost to Lyft, which hasn’t invested as heavily as its competitor Uber in building out its own systems. While at Google, Vincent oversaw everything from how to strap cameras onto backpacks to putting the cameras on satellites in order to map the world. While Lyft doesn’t have plans to introduce mapping cars (or satellites for that matter) anytime soon, Vincent said even things like knowing which way the car is facing on the map for effective routes are mapping and marketplace challenges.
And while he’s excited to bring his decade plus experience at one of the top mapping teams in the globe to Lyft, working for a company that’s looking to transform the globe in a new way appealed to Vincent the most.
“I like the fact that it’s not only a great business, but something that will do good for the world,” Vincent said. “If we are smart about it, through the kind of services that Lyft can provide, I think we can help people’s lives really broadly.”