Dan Doctoroff stepping down from Sidewalk Labs, faces ALS battle

Former deputy mayor shaped New York City development under Bloomberg

Dan Doctoroff (Getty)
Dan Doctoroff (Getty)

Dan Doctoroff, who shaped New York City’s real estate landscape as deputy mayor before going on to lead Sidewalk Labs, is departing from the company as he confronts a likely battle against ALS.

Doctoroff announced his resignation as CEO in a Medium blog post Thursday. While he hasn’t been diagnosed with the incurable disease, various symptoms, test results and meetings with ALS experts have led him to believe he will be.

“This is all very new,” Doctoroff wrote. “But given the likelihood that my lifespan will be significantly shorter than I thought, I know there are changes I need to make in my life now.”

Doctoroff wrote that his father and uncle had the progressive, debilitating disease. He intends to spend more time with his family and leading the organization he started, Target ALS. The nonprofit has raised $90 million since its founding about a decade ago and he aims to raise another $250 million.

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Doctoroff started Sidewalk Labs within Google six years ago. It has developed several products and applications geared towards increased sustainability, including Pebble, Mesa, Delve, Affordable Electrification and Canopy Buildings; the first four will become Google products next year, while Canopy Buildings will eventually be spun off as its own company.

“While I will dearly miss working with the incomparable Sidewalk Labs team, I couldn’t be more excited to see Google accelerate the development of our products and technology to achieve their sustainability mission — not a moment too soon for the world,” Doctoroff wrote.

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Doctoroff served in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, helping to lead the city’s recovery from 9/11, rezoning large swaths of the city and leading efforts to bring the 2012 Summer Olympics to New York.

Although the city’s Olympics bid lost out to London, it led to a number of significant developments, such as a large middle-class housing development in Queens where the Olympic Village was planned and the No. 7 subway extension and Hudson Yards, where he wanted to put the Olympic stadium.

Before Bloomberg hired doctoroff, the incoming mayor had talked about locating more government agencies in Downtown Brooklyn. That idea was swiftly dropped when Doctoroff took over the city’s economic development portfolio, and the neighborhood’s retail environment eventually blossomed.

Doctoroff also served as the head of Bloomberg LP before joining Sidewalk Labs.

In 2015 he was the subject of The Real Deal’s back-cover interview The Closing, where he discussed his upbringing and his career, as well as his family’s history with ALS, saying it “creates a bit of a specter that comes and goes.”

Doctoroff also sat down with his successor as deputy mayor, Alicia Glen, for a 45-minute video interview with TRD early in the pandemic, during which he emphasized the city’s need to grow.

On Medium, Doctoroff wrote, “I have always been an optimist and I have always believed in the power of optimism. This moment is no different.”

[Medium] — Holden Walter-Warner

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