Shake-ups at Google continue as another exec steps aside

One day after Android chief steps down, Jeff Huber is out as head of mapping and commerce

In the wake of yesterday's announcement that Andy Rubin is stepping aside from leading Android, Google appears to be continuing some spring cleaning.

The company confirmed in an email to Computerworld today that Jeff Huber, Google's head of mapping and commerce, is also leaving his post.

"Jeff is an extraordinary executive," the company said. "He just finished his first decade at Google -- having worked on some of our most complicated issues like ads, apps, payments and geo -- and now he is eager to work in more of a start-up environment."

The company declined to comment on reports that Huber is moving to Google X), a division that focuses on experimental projects. Google also would not comment on reports that the company is splitting up mapping and commerce, linking mapping with search and commerce with the advertising division.

"Huber's exit is part of an overall restructuring at Google," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. "Google has grown, but not like Apple and that's what investors are looking for. While Google Maps is the gold standard, it hasn't been monetized nearly as it could. With the commerce product...more is expected from Google."

Moorhead also pointed out that it would make perfect sense for Google to split up the mapping and commerce division and hitch the parts to other divisions.

"This is all about Google's theory of monetization and how to maximize it," he added "Their theory says that if they blend commerce with advertising, it will drive commerce revenue. Linking mapping and search is indicative of their belief that more people will be searching on mobile devices and they will be doing it in context, tied to a mapping function."

Jeff Kagan, an independent industry analyst, said it's clear that Google is looking to dust off some cobwebs and move things around with some hefty spring cleaning.

"The management and the industry have grown and changed as quickly as the company has grown," said Kagan. "So every few years they have to step back, look at where they've come from and where they are going, and make some changes."

Google is well known for cleaning house when a product or division needs some changes, or even when it needs to go all together.

That means this week's changes aren't surprising and there may be more on the horizon.

"I recall, a few years ago, they closed Google Health, which was the Google search of the health care industry. Sounded great, but didn't grow so it was gone," said Kagan. "Now a few years later, Google is into so many different businesses, they need to pull the camera back, take a hard look at everything, and do their regular spring cleaning.... So we can expect to see more of this over time."

He also said he doesn't see these changes as a sign that Google senses trouble ahead. Instead, the company is simply repositioning itself.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at  @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

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