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Apple’s Jony Ive removed from Saudi megacity board. Other tech execs remain – CNET

The 2017 New Yorker TechFest

Jony Ive.

Brian Ach

US tech leaders were named on a Saudi smart city project's advisory board during controversial time, then Apple's Jony Ive's name was removed.

Saudi news outlet Argaam on Tuesday published a 19-member list of the Advisory Board for Saudi Arabia's $500 billion project NEOM, which plans to build a futuristic cross-border city based on smart technology.

The board originally included Ive, chief design officer at Apple, but was later removed from the list, leaving the board with 18 members, according to Business Insider. Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Other names on the list included top executives from the tech industry in the US, including Silicon Valley investor Marc Andreessen, co-chair of OpenAI Sam Altman, former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, CEO of Alphabet's subsidiary Sidewalk Labs Dan Doctoroff, former Dow Chemical Company CEO Andrew Liveris and more.

The announcement comes after Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi dissident and critic of the Saudi government, last week disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, according to the New York Times. Turkish investigators reportedly said that a team of 15 Saudi agents killed him inside the consulate. The Saudi government has reportedly denied the murder.

Saudi Arabia has been building relationships in the technology industry, particularly through its partnership with Japanese telecom giant SoftBank. The company invested nearly half the money needed for SoftBank's $100 billion Vision Fund, which has changed the traditional funding model for startups since it launched last year. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last week told Bloomberg News that he planned to invest another $45 billion in a second SoftBank fund. Other investors in the original fund included Apple and Qualcomm.

The complete list of advisors for NEOM is provided by Argaam as the following:

  • Sam Altman, the president of Y Combinator and the co-chair of OpenAI

  • Marc Andreessen, co-founder and general partner of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz

  • Tim Brown, CEO and president of IDEO

  • Timothy Collins, vice chairman and CEO of Ripplewood Advisors

  • Alexandra Cousteau, a senior advisor to Oceana

  • Dan Doctoroff, founder and CEO of Sidewalk Labs

  • Norman Robert Foster, founder and CEO of Foster + Partners

  • Janvan Hest, a chemistry professor

  • Travis Kalanick, CEO of City Storage Systems

  • Neelie Kroes, a retired Dutch politician and vice-president of the European Commission

  • Andrew N. Liveris, former CEO and chairman of Dow Chemical Company

  • Ernest Moniz, founder of Energy Futures Initiative

  • Marc Raibert, a former Carnegie Mellon University professor and a founder of Boston Dynamics

  • Carlo Ratti, a professor of Urban Technologies and Planning, and director of SENSEable City Lab

  • John Rossant, founder and chairman of the New Cities Foundation

  • Masayoshi Son, a Japanese business magnate and chief executive officer of Japanese holding conglomerate SoftBank

  • Rob Speyer, Tishman Speyer president and chief executive officer

  • Peter Voser, chairman of ABB.

CNET's Shara Tibken contributed to this report.

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