The new look of Google management

by: Nate SwannerMarch 22, 2013

google logo [aa] Meneame/Flickr

Technology is a funny thing. Constantly moving, evolving, shifting, and transforming. Progressive fields are like that, naturally, so we really shouldn’t be surprised when a company like Google changes things up a bit. The recent management shakeup in Mountain View was significant, but not for the reasons we may think.

Moving on

The biggest shock to our system was Andy Rubin leaving Android. The founder and father of our favorite mobile platform is moving on to another project, in another building. Where and what will be next for Andy, nobody really knows. Speculation about going to Google X abound, but to no end. All we know is that Andy is leaving, and we wish him well.

A few days after that announcement, we learned that Jeff Hubel was moving on as well. Hubel, who was heading up Maps, Commerce, and Payments, will be headed to Google X. In both instances, the respective divisions those two ran will be merged with other properties inside of Google. This isn’t representative of two guys who wanted a different challenge as much it is a restructuring within Google. 


To get a better understanding of what’s going on at Google, let’s get an idea of who is doing what these days. We know what both Andy and Jeff were doing before moving on, but where did their products end up? What does it mean? First, a list of who is doing what.

  • Sundar Pichai: Chrome, Android
  • Alan Eustace: Maps, Search
  • Susan Wojcicki: Advertising, Commerce, Payments
  • Vic Gundotra: Google+
  • Salar Kamangar: Video & YouTube

That’s five managers, heading up nine services. This is just an example of the “more wood behind fewer arrows” edict Larry Page mentioned in a Google+ post regarding Google becoming a more focused company. We can learn a lot from this alignment of stars, and get a good idea of just what might be coming.



Change is a bit frightening at times, but also needed. What are the challenges each manager faces? How will they progress their respective divisions? Even those whose services remained untouched will be affected by the dominoes around them falling into place.


Sundar Pichai

Sundar has done a fabulous job with Chrome, but Android is a wholly different beast. There wasn’t even a Chrome browser for Android until last year, and the browser has been around for quite some time. This is perhaps representative of two services with very different ideas on how to move forward, which could prove to be Sundar’s largest immediate challenge. He now has two very different teams that may have some conflicting ideas on direction.

The combination of the Chrome and Android camps is significant. This doesn’t necessarily mean the two services will merged, but it does represent that they will be moving in a very similar direction on the same trajectory. Android is Google’s mobile trump card, and the company has made clear its intentions to be a mobile-centric one. Chrome has proven itself invaluable as a browser,and the OS is coming along nicely. Android could provide Chrome with the necessary tools needed to grow and diversify, while Chrome might inject some needed energy into the Android team.


Alan Eustace

Having already taken the reigns of Search, the addition of Maps to Alan’s arsenal is curious. Why merge these two services together? It seems that the ability to find things while exploring is an increasing part of Google’s strategy. This is a natural fit for services like Offers, and technology like Glass. This move seems to signify that Google is keenly aware of our surroundings, even if we’re not.


Susan Wojcicki

Susan was already taking care of advertising services, but the addition of commerce and payments is a no-brainer. Those are all services that fit together, and should be under one roof. This is significant in Google’s ongoing effort to attract businesses and advertising to their services. This move, above all, is more wood behind an arrow that has locked onto a target.


Vic Gundotra

While Vic’s job may not have changed, it didn’t have to. Google+ is meant as the spine that runs through Google, and connects all services together. Google has been serious about social, moving Google+ along at a very respectable pace. It’s a tricky line that Vic is walking, though.

Google+ is a singular service of a company with a diversity of interests, with the aim to tie everything in. In simply considering social, Google+ has pinched a bit from everyone. It’s a little like twitter, a lot like Facebook, and remains attractive for LinkedIn users. If anyone is spread too thin, it may be Vic. The again, if anyone can make magic happen… it’s Vic.


Salar Kamangar

YouTube uploads 30 hours of video every minute of the day. In that minute, there are 2,300 views. Inside of 60 seconds, there are more than one full days worth of issues, from copyright to term of service issues. Like Vic, Salar has a single title that encompasses a myriad of things daily. YouTube is attempting to attract original content, as well as exploring the streaming radio realm. Aside from the larger task at hand, there just isn’t another service that would have made sense to bundle with YouTube.


What does it all mean?

This all constitutes a concentrated effort to drive Google further. What was once a company of isolated services is becoming one designed to react swiftly and act decisively as one. Google X is a fantastic curiosity, but those are all very clandestine ideas that may never see the light of day. What has been done to Google as an entity is much more striking to our daily lives.

At the end of the day, we’re going to see a Google that puts out brilliant products and services meant to enhance our experience every step of the way. Many lament the deletion of services like Google Reader, but that action is part of a larger breadth for Google. This management shakeup is like taking your car in for a tune-up and having the mechanic supercharge it for you at no cost. Same car you’re used to, just faster and more nimble. Larry Page seems to be quite the archer these days, and his quiver of arrows is exceedingly impressive.

  • Aron Spiess

    Great article. Hadn’t heard the arrows analogy till this, but quite appropriate and clever. I think good companies can deal with this shakeup and know when to implement it. This kind of change will surely breath new life and create focus.

  • Abhay Burman

    Maps SVP was “Jeff Huber”, not “Hubel”

  • Thejus Rao

    Awesome article.

  • alex

    There is something I don’t quite understand… I keep reading how Sundar Pichai did a wonderful job with Chrome. If we consider Chrome, the browser, definitely: it has taken a significant market share, it is a fast, powerful internet client. Now when it comes to Chrome OS, which I assume he also manages, please give me a break, this is a money spender for google, and, more importantly, a completely useless OS for us. What does it actually do? Chrome OS? What does it do that Chrome browser doesn’t already? It starts the computer, ok… Anything else? HTML 5, web-based applications, all of that will be in Chrome as well. So the question is: can (or will) it do anything that windows, or mac OS X, or any versions of linux, with Chrome can’t? Tell me if I am wrong (and pls in case you do, explain why), but I think no. Can you do anything with any versions of linux, or windows, or mac OS X with Chrome that Chrome OS can’t (or will)? Yes!! A thousand things, gaming, software development (get Eclipse to run on Chrome OS…), RCP (by definition it can’t since Chrome OS is strictly a client), or any truly developed software (don’t get me wrong, I love my nexus S and all the neat apps that I use or that other may use, but those are extremely limited, and all in all it represents a small part of what computing is, and is used for).

    So sure, google is working their business “the more things are cloud-based, the more money we make, so let’s make sure that people develop more and more thru the web by making a OS that is nothing more than a browser, that’ll teach them!” I get it, and that’s fine, it’s their company, they aren’t forcing anyone to use it. But please people, stop saying Chrome OS is great, and was something needed or bla bla bla… It’s just a sub-capable OS, that doesn’t do anything (!!!) than other can do, yet the opposite can’t be said.

    • I agree. In my opinion, Chrome OS is a fantastic OS (have you all ever used it for more than an hour? It’s awesome!) hindered by total lack of features. I mean, you can’t use Google’s OS to develop for Google’s sole mobile OS. That alone should raise all red flags. Android is great but/because still can be used offline very well. If I use a notebook, I want something more versatile period.

      I don’t know if it’s practical or profitable for them, but I would prefer a distro by them having everything Google integrated. I use Xubuntu currently, but its not the same, Google services are not integrated, as you expect from windows/linux-distros equally.

  • Something seems a little fishy with the newest changes. I feel like Google is seeing something that the general population is not. Me = Anxious.