Larry Page already making moves to transform Google back into a startup

Sat, Mar 26, 2011


With Google co-founder Larry Page poised to take the CEO reigns of Google in about a week, there’s been a lot of speculation as to how Google will operate under Page as opposed to outgoing CEO Eric Schmidt. One of the more common threads we’ve seen is Page’s desire to infuse a little bit of that start-up culture back into Google, a company that now boasts more than 24,000 employees.

Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Amir Efrati highlights many of the changes that Page has already begun implementing with the intention of making Google more nimble and less prone to the bureaucratic red tape than often plagues large companies.

It’s no secret that Google likes to dip its toe into the entire technological pool. A quick perusal of GoogleLabs should give you an idea as to how varied the projects at Google are. Indeed, some of Google’s more popular services, like Gmail and Google News for example, were borne out of Google’s 20% rule wherein employees are encouraged to spend one day a week working on projects that aren’t necessarily in their job description. While that philosophy may foster innovation, it can also create a clusterf*ck of ideas and overlapping projects. In short, there’s a helluva lot more going on at Google than search algorithm tweaks and Android development.

So, in an attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff, Page has already started asking product and engineering managers to email him what they’ve been working on in 60 words or less. The purpose of the email was to have managers “pitch” Page on whatever projects they’ve been working on.

“Some managers,” the report reads, “believe Mr. Page will eliminate or downgrade projects he doesn’t believe are worthwhile, freeing up employees to work on more important initiatives.”

Page is also keen on making Google executives more accessible to employees company-wide, encouraging them to work together in public areas within Google so that employees can easily approach them with ideas, concerns, and any other important matters of the day.

Mr. Page has also tried to facilitate better communication among top executives and give employees access to them. He recently mandated a “bullpen” session every afternoon, in which he and the company’s executive officers sit and work on small couches outside a board room in Building 43 at Google’s headquarters.

The attendees have included chief legal officer David Drummond, senior vice president of engineering Jeff Huber, senior vice president of product management Jonathan Rosenberg, and YouTube chief Salar Kamangar, said people familiar with the matter.

The underlying goal of all of this is, again, to make Google operate more like a start-up. In that vein, Mr. Page is actively fielding ideas from product managers as to what steps Google can make to make the company more quickly and “identify the barriers that prevent innovation.” Back in January, Page said that he wants more product groups to operate like start-ups within Google, much like how Android and YouTube reportedly operate.



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