Google product chief Jonathan Rosenberg resigns

Wed, Apr 6, 2011


With Larry Page now in firm control as CEO of Google, significant management shakeups have already begun. This past Wednesday, Jonathan Rosenberg announced that he was leavingthe search giant after 9+ years at the company. The impetus for the departure was the result of one of Page’s first orders of business as CEO – asking high ranking employees to sign long term multi-year employment contracts. Rosenberg ultimately decided that he couldn’t commit to the company for that long due to family priorities, namely a pre-existing plan to leave Google in 2013 when his daughter goes to college.

The departure for Rosenberg caught many by surprise as he was an extremely talented and influential senior manager who helped build the product management teams that delivered products like the Chrome browser and the Android OS. Moreover, Rosenberg was a key player on Google’s executive committee responsible for making long term strategic decisions for the company. At Google, Rosenberg was largely considered one of the most powerful people within the company.
Before joining Google in 2002, Rosenberg had previously worked at Apple and Excite@Home. A report from MecuryNews notes that Rosenberg served as an important mentor for a number of Google executives, including YouTube head honcho Salar Kamangar, advertising head Susan Wojcicki, and Marissa Mayer.

“What you see now in the valley, at Google and outside of Google, are a lot of people who got hired first because of the standards and the practices that Jonathan set up for Google, and who went through the basics of how to be a product manager in ‘the Jonathan school,’ ” Kamangar said Monday. “You see these folks in leadership positions in many startups outside of Google, and within Google.”

Wojcicki recalled the impact, on both her and a sick Googler, when Rosenberg once insisted they both go visit the seriously ill employee in the hospital. “I feel like my management style will always be a result of him being my manager for the past eight years,” she said.

With Google now in his rear view mirror, Rosenberg will remain affiliated with the company, albeit in a consulting role. Interestingly, Rosenberg is planning to co-author a book with the now departed CEO Eric Schmidt. The book will detail the “values, rules and creation of Google’s management culture.”

In a brief statement addressing Rosenberg’s departure, CEO Larry Page stated, “”We tried to hire Jonathan multiple times because he was the only person we could imagine doing the job. It’s lucky we were so persistent because he’s built an amazing team — hiring great people, who’ve created amazing products that have benefited over a billion users around the world.”

Even in the weeks before assuming CEO duties at Google, Page’s management approach created a stir at Google. Not too long ago, Page began taking steps to instill a bit of that start-up culture vibe back into Google, a company which now boasts over 24,000 employees worldwide. To wit, Page is handing back more power to engineers at the expense of managers, is generally trying to make Google’s executive team more available to lower-level engineers, and wants certain product groups within the company to operate more autonomously.

But with Page dead serious on tearing down some of the bureaucracy he believes now envelops the company, some speculate that Rosenberg’s departure may not have been the result of strictly personal factors.

Ken Auletta, who wrote “Googled: The End of the World as We Know It” speculates, “Jonathan has sway over much of the management systems at Google. Did he come to exemplify the bureaucracy Larry Page condemns? I don’t know, but I suspect the answer is yes.”

And so the changing dynamic of Google under newly minted CEO Larry Page rolls on.



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