Google Board Director Leaves in Favor of Apple

Arthur Levinson, the former CEO of biotech firm Genentech, is leaving the Google Inc. (GOOG) board as the FTC probes director ties between the Web giant and Apple Inc. (AAPL).

Levinson also is a director on Apple’s board and will retain that role.

The FTC has been looking into whether Google and Apple having mutual board members constitutes anticompetitive behavior. Both companies are Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) rivals and all three companies are making headway in the dog-eat-dog mobile marketplace. Google CEO Eric Schmidt already has quit Apple’s board over the hullaballoo.

Schmidt released a statement on Monday thanking Levinson for his “unvarnished advice and vital counsel on every big issue and opportunity Google has faced” over the past five years.

Schmidt provided no explanation for Levinson’s departure. However, observers say the move highlights the growing competitive tensions between Google and Apple, who long were considered allies in Silicon Valley. They also say Levinson’s resignation comes as the FTC investigates board connections between the two companies.

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