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New Google CEO sweeps in with company reorg

Page wastes no time in shaking up management

April 8, 2011 02:02 PM ET

Computerworld - Wasting no time, Larry Page quickly moved to shake up Google's top management in the days after he became the Internet company's CEO on Monday.

Larry Page
Larry Page became CEO of Google this week and quickly moved to re-organize the top management. (Photo by Mario Anzuoni / Reuters)

A Google spokesman confirmed to Computerworld on Friday that the company's management structure had been realigned. The spokesman said the restructuring is aimed at "streamlining" Google management, putting one person in charge of each of Google's "functional groups." These groups are generally based around product lines, such as search or the Android platform. Those changes were announced to Google employees Wednesday.

The spokesman said the restructuring didn't include layoffs.

"Page is definitely coming at this out of the gate," said Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Financial, a New York-based investment firm. "He doesn't need to wait and get the lay of the land. He knows what he wants to do, and he's hitting it pretty fast."

Citing an unnamed source, the Los Angeles Times reported that the management shakeup included several key promotions. Andy Rubin was named senior vice president of mobile; Vic Gundotra, senior vice president of social; Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome; Alan Eustace, senior vice president of search, Susan Wojcicki, senior vice president of ads; and Salar Kamangar, senior vice president of YouTube and video.

Each group manager is now autonomous, reporting directly to Page.

The restructuring at Google shouldn't come as a surprise. Page made that clear in January when it was announced that he would succeed Eric Schmidt as CEO.

The only surprise is how fast it happened.

Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at Technology Business Research, said the speed of this move is an indication of how Page is going to run the show. "I think it answers the question about why Schmidt left," Gottheil said. "There was a divergence in vision. Page wants to move faster."

The first change in Google's management team came the same day that Page took over as CEO.

On Monday, Jonathan Rosenberg, Google's product chief, announced that he plans to resign. By all accounts a pivotal player at Google, Rosenberg is expected to leave the company in the coming months. At this point, it's unclear who will replace him, or if he will be replaced at all.

Page, who all along has been part of the triumvirate behind Google's success that also included Schmidt and co-founder Sergey Brin, is making it clear that he's in charge. Some, though, wonder why Page would shake things up at a company that has achieved such wild success.

Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group, said Google is in need of an overhaul.

"The firm lacks focus. Its brand is suffering from a long list of crappy products, and it's still largely living off that first big idea, which probably won't last," he said. "It is actually much sicker than its revenue -- which is more like an annuity at this point -- represents. They needed to do this, but they need to do it well."

Enderle added that he's concerned that by setting up groups that report only to the top, Page is creating fiefdoms. That could lead to trouble, he said.

"It can fragment the company into warring groups, which eventually could kill the company," he said. "Done right, however, the approach is similar to what successful military organizations do, and it is a textbook MBA approach to managing a large company.... The approach is very powerful if done right, but Google has a history of learning by doing, and execution could be a problem here as well."

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

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