Matías Duarte leaving Palm for Google (Update: Confirmed) | webOS Nation

Matías Duarte leaving Palm for Google (Update: Confirmed) 106

by Derek Kessler Thu, 27 May 2010 11:42 am EDT

Matias Duarte As reported by All Things D, one of the men who proved crucial to the development of webOS UI is leaving Palm: Matías Duarte is headed over to Mountain View and taking up an office at Google. As Palm’s Vice President of Human Interface and User Experience, Duarte and his team were responsible by-and-large for making webOS look and behave the way it looks and behave. Presumably, Duarte will be taking a similar role at Google and be working on Android - in fact he held a like position when he worked at Helio and Danger (makers of the Sidekick, since gobbled-up by Microsoft) prior to coming to Palm.

This leaves a big gaping hole at the top of level of Palm’s webOS development team. No matter how fast or multi-tasking an operating system is, it needs to look good and be easy to use to truly succeed (see how fast Android has taken off with newer revisions). With Palm headed into the land of HP this summer, the opportunities for somebody looking to fill that vacancy could be quite tempting. Perhaps Mr. J Allard, formerly of Microsoft, could be talked into being interested?

Either way, we’re sad to see Duarte leaving Palm, especially with such a game-changing move happening with the purchase by HP, and wish him best of luck wherever he lands.

Update: Engadget has confirmed that Duarte will become Google's "User Experience Director for Android."



whatever happened to loyalty.

It went the way of the Dodo bird.

If this is a good opportunity for him and his career then good for him. A sad day for WebOS fans but I have no issue with this. In my experience companies express no loyalty to their employees, why should he return the favor?

Loyalty went out the window in the '80s when companies stopped seeing employees as people and started seeing them as "human resources". At that point, staff became another expense to manage and minimize. Manufacturing was the first major victim as companies would move production to cheaper labor markets (ultimately giving rise to China's current power).

Nowadays, staff and even those in the executive suite don't see stability & loyalty from their management so there's no reason to offer any on their end.

In short, loyalty no longer puts food on the table.

Outstanding explanation. I just had a similar discussion at work last night, more specifically on the death of the manufacturing process in America.

The only loyalty this gentleman needs to show is to himself and those he cares about. Good for him.

Sadly, all true.

Companies see people as human resources. Governments see people as masses.

Holy crap. This is huge.

webOS just lost its father. Time to bail out.

LOL, I love how every moop that comes in here, credits the name of the week as the "father of WebOS" and assumes said person is always a positive contributor, bordering on being the backbone of the entire company.

How did IBM ever continue after Watson?

If he were loyal to Helio, Palm might be dead now. If Rubi were loyal to Apple...

The high tech world moves fast.

Loyalty evaporates when stock options go underwater. Other articles have mentioned that any of these Palm employees brought on over the past 2-3 years had stock options in the 6 or 7 dollar range which means they are worthless. They certainly aren't worth what they were worth a year ago.

By the way, I don't think you have any right to question someone's loyalty when your loyalty consists of buying a phone, some peripherals, and signing a 2 year contract. What is your ETF? People are managing their careers, here.

This is why stock price IS important. High tech employees are incentivized, by options, to stay. By the way, if you know the developers of you smartphone OS by name then you are are truly an nth degree geek.

Duante that turncoat!!! Oh well, EVO 4g here I come!

screw that.. he has to worry about his future and as great as webOS is... the android giant is coming hard along with that crapple guys and their new hardware (as usual). I couldnt blame the guy. He could of done us all a favor and just before he left at least leaked the next webOS device ..seeing how everyone else is. I give Palm until June 3rd to change my mind and just come out with a leak.. new hardware.. I trust the OS..i really do webOS 2.0 will be amazing.. but right now I want to take my Pre and throw it into the middle of I-95.. Evo 4g.. here I come.

OOPs i sent this in to tip us like 10 sec before the article went up lol

Google FTW!!!!

One step foreward and two steps back.. This will be a big problem for palm. I love the interface. If Android gets an similar interface where is the reason to stick with palm except multitasking?

Android has multitasking...

and so does iPhone OS 4.0..... (wink). There's still no mobile OS that can multitask as elegantly and effectively as webOS. And that's a fact.

I think it's wrong to say that iPhone OS 4 has multitasking. Rather it allows developers to enable multitasking if they want it, and if it works the way that iPhone OS allows.

OTOH: WebOS multitasks every application. Period. Nothing to code in. If you wrote the application, it multitasks. "Hello, World" multitasks w/o any developer input required to make it work.

WebOS has multitasking
iPhone OS4 and android have multitasking APIs

It's the difference between the OS doing the multitasking and the app developer doing the multitasking.

And the difference to the consumer, when using two or more apps, is what?

A lot!

none cause they don't care that much. the reality is they multitask good enough.

none cause they don't care that much. the reality is they multitask good enough.

and so what defines a 'troll'on this site?
Is it a person with an alternate perspective on a topic, who does not perform the adolescent, gushing ritual that webOS is omnipotently perfect?

Surely you've bought your iPhone, sold your Pre, and no longer have reason to troll this site by now?

What an EXCELLENT post finngirl. I do find this circular debate on 'multitasking' to be very amusing. Such a storm over nothing...and you know what? - many pundits claim to understand multitasking, but very few actually do.

Wrong. Android and WebOS have real, OS level, preemptive multi-tasking.

You're right about OS4, though. It has cooperative multi-tasking, not all that different than what Palm OS has offered for more than 10 years.

errr...Android 2.1 multitasking is superior to webOS 1.4.1. Android is stunningly fast between screens, does not become bogged down with 'too many cards open' limitations.

I own a Pre and a Motorala Droid.

webOS is passe now - headed for HP printer control panels !

That is NOT a fact.

Some of you guys are so delusional. The iPhone's multitasking is nerfed, only 6 operations are allowed in the background, and GPS isn't even one of them.

Android has true multitasking in every sense of the word. The only difference between Android multitasking and webOS multitasking is that webOS requires more management. Flipping through multiple cards, closing things...Android takes care of that for you. There's icons, not cards, which allows you to, you know, have a homescreen where you can see your wallpaper, add widgets and shortcuts and folders, etc.

When you can run any app in the background or have an app autostart itself to do a process, that's true multitasking. Enough with he delusion.

a physical keyboard.

Interesting comment from the Engadget article about this:

While Matias was unquestionably a prime mover at Palm, we had heard rumblings that his rigid attitude toward design and control-freak nature sometimes caused conflict amongst the team.

Maybe he'll take all the chunky beveled buttons with him.

This may be bad or this may be good. We'll see.

If the platform depends on one or two key people, let me pick up this call from Darwin on my call waiting. . Hmmm, how do I do this in webos. AFI...good riddance!

wish him best of luck wherever he lands.

I have a hunch he will land at Google. ;)


it's too bad that a non-compete clause doesn't reach as high in the exec level.

in this biz the "there's no such thing as bad press" idea doesn't apply. not much in news after the buyout other than the guy leaving for twitter, someone else putting down a webos tablet rumor in october, and now this.

all of that doesn't mean much to the average consumer, but the techie crowd among smartphone users is pretty large and talk can spread like wildfire.

now would be a good time for something regarding a new device palm.

cali doesn't honor non-competes

Loyalty is simply a commodity, to be bought and sold like recycled metals and pork bellies. They all have a price.

Don't we all...okay maybe not that easy, but we all have our limits and make changes that are best of ourselves and family (especially).

Shame, but not a big surprise during Palm's transition period. Heck...with what we know HP may have had other plans not in tune with his design measures?

Who knows, but I hope his and Palm's transition goes well.


Oh well. That probably means that Android will get better. So if eventually Palm still fails in the hands of HP switching to Android wouldn't hurt as much as it does now, user-friendliness-wise.

that's one of the queerest looking guys I have ever seen.

What do you mean by queer?


Wow, I'm glad you said something. Wasn't sure if anybody was alive inside that pillowcase.

This is concerning. If he can bring a helping of webOS elegance to Android Palm may be in trouble.

It makes you wonder, why didn't Google buy Palm? I suppose because it's cheaper to pinch Palm's Vice President of Human Interface and User Experience.

He's a design guy, not a developer. He paints the wall, somebody else builds it. Google still has a long way to go to find similarities with webos, and they have a lot invested in therw current interface, as balky as it is. If he is as cantankerous as we've heard, it's gonna be an uphill climb to have an impact.

Hate to be the one to break the news, but Palm is already in trouble. Even with an infusion of cash from HP (if it's not too late already), Palm is way behind the curve in terms of power, flexibility, customizability, and application support.

Oddly enough, the tech analysts (not the Wall St ones) universally state that WebOs is the most advanced O/S in the industry with virtually limitless potential. HP seemed to appreciate that as well. But, you may know more than the experts and the world largest PC maker.

I am upset at the move... I don't want webos going anywhere but on palm. I hope they bring in someone with the skills and the goods to take the webos places and update the UI which I think is what probably happened anyway. If you cant work as a team the product or the business suffers.

Define GAPING HOLE? do you mean the size of hole spilling oil and gas in the Gulf, or do you mean a Black Hole in space or ???
My contacts at HP say he was not going to fit the culture, and best to let him leave on his terms so he looks good... they have some great UI guys at HP already working the UI for new devices... yet to be annonced...

I think it is a good thing, and the gaping hole will be plugged with a safety pin.

Only my comments and perspective..... hang on as this will be a great ride if your in the car vs outside looking in....

those great UI guys at HP... What exactly have they done great in what UI?

I personally am scared to be in the car. There seems to be a mad-man driving.
I have no confidence in HP and anything they'll do to/with WebOS.

I don't see this as being good.
I see this opening the door to HP, or whoever, to look at WebOS, which has a UI that is phenominal, and start changing bits and pieces.
this will lead to parts of WebOS to become inconsistent.
That's what happens when there's too many chefs...

What's the big deal? His job at palm is done... They have the UI they need that everyone seems to love and he can't take it with him.
I don't see this as being a big factor for the future of Palm.

BTW, I am going to get the EVO on release date unless Palm steps up and gives me something to wait for... This is the only phone I want, but need it faster and less fragile. Palm has to realize this is not just me, right???

Yeah, the interface is prolly the most complete element of the phone.

If you need a promise by Evo launch date from Palm, take your sandchair to Sprint now. NOTHING will be announced until the merger. You'll have to appreciate the Palm Peralta from the outsite looking in for 9 months until your upgrage comes due.

Good point and I agree with you.

The point is everything around them is evolving, and they do, too.

webOS isn't fresh. It is old. webOS needs to evolve and innovate, it can't stand still. Without him, there's no guarantee it will innovate for the better.

Even further, HP is going to work on webOS tablets. Without him, there's no guarantee they'll get the transition right for the big screen.

So, he's the best guy in the world, his staff were talentless and he can't be replaced with HP's vast resources?

I know we can find enough plywood to board up Palm HQ, is there enought to seal up HP too?

WebOS is old? It's not even "mature" yet.

Well, that's ok. I've got 35 patches installed to undo what this guy did.

(I'm just kidding! I hope he finds a good job) :)

Good thing about design, There is always someone better so sucks for you guy and have fun with the toyish look of android.

interesting turn of events. my biggest issue with android and moreso with the iphone has been the UI. his addition to google could mean wonderful things for the android OS and it could be damning for WebOS.

it'll be interesting to see where this goes...

don't these guys sign non-compete agreements? I could not go directly to a competitor without being sued...

Sure but a company as large as Google could say, "We'll pay any legal expenses you incur as a result of taking this new position."

everybody is leavin the sinking ship and i have still more then a yr on my contract FUCKIN HELL

Sinking ship? Where have you been lately?

over at engaget it is heard that he was a problem though within the Web OS development team,

"While Matias was unquestionably a prime mover at Palm, we had heard rumblings that his rigid attitude toward design and control-freak nature sometimes caused conflict amongst the team" (states engagdet)

so if thats the case it makes sense for the parting. Also remember theres more to it than just him, as well as all the developers by now have an idea how they would keep the interface UI the way it is now. So to me if he was a issue then its good that hes gone. Hes not the only UI developer in the world, and as stated there even if Google gets him there are a bunch of things due to patents that google cant use so theres no worry there.

there is no coincidence that he's leaving after the all hands meeting. He is probably too independent to work in a larger firm such as HP. He probably would have or is hurting the employee morale

Adios HPalm, buenas noches.....

Adios HPalm, buenas noches.....

Mr. Allard? Seriously? The Zune is not horrible but WebOS is in a different league. I don't know if Mr. Allard had a hand in Window 7 Mobile but it's interface is unacceptably ugly. Google was smart to hire Mr. Duarte. Android needs a facelift pretty badly.

Bummer for palm but no reason to jump ship.

"Beyond smartphones webos goes to slates and printers" more or less I can remember.

It seems clear to me that HP/Palm is not going primary to new hardware smartphones at the beginning.

By the other way Google just offered him a better salary.

Google intentions is to improve their software with him, but if they want to copy the Palm webos UI have to get a license.


Stupid comment. Have you actually ever worked for a company to earn a living?

And how this HP to Palm acquisition is going to end? Conflicts are on the way? I really hope not, otherwise the financial Panorama for Palm surviving is dark :(

Probably, the guy just got bored. Let's face it--all the really hard work is done in webOS. Everything else is just tweaking. A creative person like this probably just needs a new challenge.

No reason to slam the guy. He gave us a great experience, and we'll be enjoying it for years. Let's show some class, wish him the best, and then welcome in whomever is going to fill his shoes.


First, stop shouting.

Second, to give Rubenstein credit for everything Pre, including the UI, is ridiculous.

So.. I've read all the comments. (1st time ever).

I'm amazed at the people upset about this.
Traitor? Loyalty?
An article here not too long ago would suggest that Jon Rubinstein was negotiating with a company that only wanted Palm for its patents. Where's the "loyalty" in that? Anybody upset.
This is not a Mom & Pop company where you can have some loyalty.
There's known unknowns here. He's "rigid in his designs". Perhaps he didn't want to bend his(?) UI to be on a printer.

Ultimately this has little immediate effect on Palm or Android.
However in the long run if HP wants to "scale" WebOS and/or has plans for WebOS2 then somebody else needs to come in which will certainly dilute that WebOS is now.
The one thing WebOS REALLY has over Android is the UI.
If he can bring some consistency and polish Android's UI this is going to be HUGE! Android's onslaught will run right over WebOS.

HP/Palm, if they have any intentions of continuing to build phones (something I personally think is on the back burner*), they need to bring it hard and fast.

*what we've since since the buyout talks has been HP talking about "scale" and a web enabled printer. No mention of phones. At all.

Just give me the darn EVO with webOS running on it. That will be the first step to tablet design anyway.

That would be something. Not likely Evos will every see an upgrade on o/s as Sprint is the only company with Wimax and its only in limited markets, so they probably wont see the sell through to pay for updating a new droid for the Evo hardware. If you want an Evo, be certain you love it as-is. It wont see the same evolution and developement we saw for Pre/WebOS.

Wow i think this is a game changer. I dont know what to say. This sucks!

No offense to everyone, but most of us did not know the guy existed until we read this article. Why should we freak out?

This guy has been at the forefront when Palm Pre was first introduced. In fact he was the first to demo WebOS UI. He is well known to us who have been following Palm for quite some time now.

Yeah, but this element of the phone is pretty much complete, and probably used his best stuff. Anything that looks much like WebOS is gonna be in IP court faster than you can double-swipe. If he were a Wimax engineer, worked on next-gen capacative screeens or was their enterprise cloud expert, that'd be a bigger impact.

I can live without Rubinstein. Anybody that never used an iPhone and wants to be a front runner in the market place is either a liar or imcompetent. And anybody that approved their previous advertising campaign and sacked the Palm PIMs and local synch, should be building bridges over streams, not to the board room of HP.

They're not going to clone the webOS UI for Android, the same way that webOS wasn't a clone of Helio or the Sidekick.

It's not that the UI is complete. It is never complete. You need to refresh, you need to update, you need to innovate. webOS can't hang around in it's current state forever. New ideas may not be so pretty or easy to use without him for webOS.

Especially when it comes to tablet transition.

And this is the only guy that can do it? It is complete in the sense that there are no clearly missing elements. There is a big difference between an evolved element vs. a missing element. If HP/Palm cant evolve, innovate and refine without him, it makes me wonder how HP could ever have made it to the forefront of the industry facing larger and stronger competition that we see in smartphones.

Matias will find it a considerable challenge improving a fracture O/S that is expanding exponentially in different directions. Much different than a clean slate in a small effort with limited interference like he enjoyed in the lauch of webos.

We'll freak out if Ruby's the one waving goodby.

We'll see how much effect he had at Palm as we watch Android grow. I'm guessing we won't miss him as much as we might initially think...

interesting turn of events. my biggest issue with android and moreso with the iphone has been the UI. his addition to google could mean wonderful things for the android OS and it could be damning for WebOS.

it'll be interesting to see where this goes...

interesting turn of events. my biggest issue with android and moreso with the iphone has been the UI. his addition to google could mean wonderful things for the android OS and it could be damning for WebOS.

it'll be interesting to see where this goes...

So to follow this thinking.... When Rubenstein left Apple.. The IPhone was facing death & Palm was taking over the smartphone world....hummm
sh**t happens & life in the smartphone lane goes on & on & on.......

where Mat

Much of the UI work on WebOS is done. I would understand Matias wanting to move on.

even with the 'incompleteness' of the Android platform, don't you guys think its a bit too far evolved for it to really change *that* much? Android is a pretty ugly UI, but its not like Duarte is going to completely redesign it. He's just going to (possibly) make it look less cluttered and scatterbrained. And the fact remains that its still fragmented as hell. I can't imagine him taking the best elements of WebOS and essentially 'porting' them to Android without there being some sort of legal conflict. Then again, Google has more money than God so they probly would incur any legal costs involved, unless a judge happens to demand that they change something.

Also, an Engadget commenter who's been developing software for his entire professional career stated that he's never seen anyone have consecutive luck designing UI's for two different companies. Not that I don't wish him luck but I guess we'll wait and see.

I remember looking at a Helio and thinking "oh Wow!".
It was unlike anything I've seen at that point.
WebOS has the same "Wow!" when I 1st took a close look at in on June 5th last year.

Android most surely won't get a whole UI make over but any polish it gets will be an improvement.

J Allard, formerly of Microsoft?! Come on, nothing against the guy, but just look at the Windows mobile... Better somebody inexperienced but with lot of potential and no bad UI design habits.

Did you see the leaked Courier videos? He was a key member of that team, and it is rumored that part of his departure from Microsoft has to do with getting into a tiff with Ballmer about it. I think it looked amazing.

Does anyone see a conflict of interest on Palms behalf besides myself here. He will be basically going over to Google and giving the in's and out's of WebOS. This will compromise the WebOS that most new users looking for a new smart phone will go over to Android. The pre and pixi will be doomed unless someone can stop this or change around the WebOS where it installs apps from other platforms.

I hope this does not mean that future versions of webOS will get clunkier due to lack of focus.

Duante that turncoat!!!! Oh well, EVO 4G here I come!

All hands "abandon ship" Evo to the rescue!

Yay, send in the Andrea Doria to save the passengers of the Titanic.

No worries. While the UI of WebOS obviously includes some neat things, if you look at it closely it's really far from perfect.

My current experience is that, when I switched from the Centro to the Pr

who cares, it's almost time for a new phone anyway...

Lets stop trippin over this guy folks. He did some good things with WebOS, but their is another brilliant guy out their to take WebOS to new and higher heights. I'm not worried because the next WebOS device is going to drop the bomb on all these android phones. And to all those lovers of the HTC EVO, just go right over to the EVO because a lof of us don't really care what the EVO does. This site is for true enthusiast of the Palm Pre, not for wimps and cry babys. So please if you want to talk how wonderful and beautiful the HTC EVO is then there is a site called Androidcentral where you can voice all of your opinions and views about the EVO.

No biggie, Evo isn't innovative, it's just another android with a faster radio in a small segment of the country. End of day, it's just the android-of-the-week and we'll soon see "That does it, I'm going to ___ when it releases, ____ rocks, sorry Palm", when the next android (prolly the one on Clear) gets fully announced.

You gotta lets the low self-esteem crowd express themselves. Then when they get what the had their hearts set on and see the reality of android, they filter themselves out of our culture and start to corrupt droid's. Soon enough, they'll be on android central saying "I expected an o/s upgrade to make this phone state-of the-art, but 8 months in and no updates like we had at palm. When C40/Peralta releases, I'm outa here, sorry HTC". Then they'll be back, and THEN we'll be sorry.

I think he has taken a big move and risk as well. Because whenever you go in new firm you have to prove yourself so I wish him luck. And yup it's a lost to palm but not so big because business never stops for anyone or because of anyone so it's not unrecoverable lost to palm. I think they have many good brains to take his place.

People are replaceable. Money will (can) bring new talent. Hopefully HP's pockets will support webOS' growth. It is unfortunate that Palm's hoped for comeback was severely lackluster and highly flawed. More will be revealed.