Larry Page’s report card one week in
The New/Old Google CEO made some important moves in his first week.
Within 24 hours of taking control, Google announced it was seeking to buy up Nortel patents, which would put it on more equal footing in the Wireless space. Google’s Android OS has outgrown the company’s patent portfolio and the other industry titans are now taking aim at Google in the courtroom. Google’s opening offer was $900 million (and by putting that out there, Google gets a reward if it is outbid).
This is a good move. Patent questions are still one of the biggest uncertainties in the Android ecosystem and having a portfolio that matches those who wish to attack will help those who work with Android sleep at night.
Day Two: Product Chief Jonathan Rosenberg was shown the door after almost a decade with the company. His departure is associated with Page’s desire to streamline the company and cut out some management fat. Rosenberg was brought in as one of Eric Schmidt’s first significant hires and is seen as an early management mentor to Google’s current ruling class. His plans to help write a book with former CEO Eric Schmidt on Google management shows that Rosenberg was clearly aligned with the former CEO.
Day Three: Google announced its earnings call which would be the first in Page’s era (Google wasn’t public in his first CEO tenure). Who will join CFO Patrick Pichette? With Schmidt and Rosenberg gone, it will be a good time for Larry Page to make an appearance and set the direction for the company, at least in the eyes of investors.
Day Four: Page ties employee bonuses to Social. Probably the clumsiest move so far, the PR spin from this move has been bad. Long term, the move may not be such a bad idea. Google employees have been departing to Facebook and other social startups for real and perceived riches. Now, to a much smaller extent, they have some monetary motivation to work on social at Google.
At the very least, it puts social on the minds of Google’s brainy 20,000-plus workforce.
Day Five: The Google-ITA deal got pushed through and both sides somehow seem to be trumpeting it as a success. Google must let the Fairsearch.org members have access to ITA software and even more interesting, must invite Government regulators to evaluate Google’s competitiveness on a yearly basis.
This is a big wild card as government intervention and competitiveness claims arise both in the US and the E.U.
Day Six: YouTube announces YouTube Live streaming. This is a big deal for news, events and sports coverage. Ustream and other sites have popularized services like this for awhile but YouTube’s entry into this space will be a big deal for new types of content. Couple that with the $100 million Google is funneling into original content and you could theoretically call YouTube its own network at this point.
And just under the wire this weekend, Shona Brown, was demoted to overseeing the Google.org business. She was last week, number five on Google’s exec list which is a huge blow. Now, CFO Patrick Pichette, will be taking over HR and BizOpps. The fate of Lazlo Bock, Google’s VP of HR is in question – he likely will report to Pichette.
So now Google has a new Org structure, though as of this writing the old one is still on Google’s website. Interestingly, Page has seven direct reports now, the scientific number of things that humans can focus on at once.
The executives promoted to senior vice president include Salar Kamangar, who leads YouTube; Andy Rubin, chief of Android; Sundar Pichai, head of the Chrome Web browser and operating system; and Vic Gundotra, who is in charge of the company’s social-networking initiatives, said a person familiar with the matter.
Three current senior vice presidents—Susan Wojcicki, who leads advertising-product initiatives; Jeff Huber, an engineering executive; and Alan Eustace, who led engineering and research—will become heads of ads, commerce and local, and Web search, respectively, the person said.
So far, I’d say Page is taking care of business though the long term consequences are still unknown. Just today, it was revealed that rival Facebook is going to be teaming up with search rival Baidu in China for a social network. Perhaps Page should get friendly with Tencent, the current leader in Social in China.
That’s for week two.
We’ll find out more about Google’s plans at the earning’s call on Thursday.