Larry Page to move Google to a confederacyJanuary 27, 2011: 7:27 PM ET
Under the new management, autonomous groups within the company will not only operate more independently, but also represent themselves externally.
The cover of this week's BloombergBusinessweek isn't overflowing with new information on Google (GOOG) or new CEO Larry Page, but it does seem to represent the new Google (please don't say Google 3.0) as an organization moving away from a centralized focus.
Here's the gritty:
The Google alums also acknowledge that Page is not a natural chief executive. An introvert, he avoids public speaking and hates having a strict daily schedule. He's no frontman—and that's where the deputies at the weekly Execute meetings come in. They'll increasingly become Google ambassadors to the world. Page says one of his goals is to take the decisive leadership style they have shown within their product groups, spread it across the company, and apply it to major decisions. "We've been inspired by a lot of the people who have been operating with more autonomy and clear decision-making authority," he says.
Google's entities have operated quite independently up until this point. For instance, Marisa Mayer would speak at a search event in her old role in search. Android events or speaking engagements would largely be manned by Andy Rubin and his crew. Chrome and ChromeOS would be manned by Sundar Pichai. And on and on.
The clear issue in this type of organization is that these groups could use redundant assets and compete internally for resources and attention. The obvious example here is Rubin's Android vs. Pichai's ChromeOS. Many feel that Google doesn't need two separate operating systems, and, by having two separate groups working on separate products, it's losing focus.
The flip side is that both groups are competing internally, improving and theoretically learning from each other, which could be an asset.
The Bloomberg passage suggests that outgoing CEO Eric Schmidt would no longer be the glue that held everyone together. From his recent remarks, it seems like Schmidt will continue on at Google, just in a lesser role.
If not Page or Schmidt, who will be the central figures?
At last year's Google I/O, the yearly developer gathering for Google and its partners, VP Vic Gundotra MCed most of the event. A natural public speaker and Microsoft (MSFT) alum with years of developer evangelism at the highest levels of both companies, the 41-year old was involved in all aspects of Google. He's currently leading Google's social efforts (presumably with the help of co-founder Sergey Brin).
The Bloomberg article implies that, going forward, those groups will represent themselves more than by Schmidt or Gundotra.
As far as internal practices go, the new model appears to give more autonomy to the business heads and let them do most of the interacting with only a little centralized leadership from the top.
This confederate model may work well for Google, but keeping a cohesive company focus will remain challenging for the new CEO.