Larry Page reorganizes Google to make management leaner and more accountable. Nice goals. However, I am uncertain as to how ‘social’ can be broken out of everything else.
Those promotions include Andy Rubin who is now senior vice president of mobile; Vic Gundotra who is now senior vice president of social; Sundar Pichai who is now senior vice president of Chrome; Salar Kamangar who is now senior vice president of YouTube and video; Alan Eustace, who is now senior vice president of search; and Susan Wojcicki, who is now senior vice president of ads.
The executives will be able to act more autonomously and won’t have to turn to Google’s powerful operating committee on every decision.
Gundotra might be better at leading social than Sergey Brin — the champion of Buzz and the ill-fated acquisition of Slide — but is he just the guy left standing after Google couldn’t find someone to run social?
Oh, and ‘running’ social does not mean buying Twitter.
We shouldn’t be surprised when a company that has placed algorithms at the center of its pantheon of deities is a bit flummoxed by messy, messy humans connecting.
Maybe this is time to pitch my Liquid Email project to Gundotra?
Update 9 April 8:00am
Mathew Ingram comments on a leaked memo from Larry Page, threatening Google bonuses if social efforts there aren’t successful:
If nothing else, Page’s move makes Google seem increasingly desperate when it comes to the social sphere. The company has tried to get things moving by launching features such as Buzz and the ill-fated Google Wave but has had little or no traction with regular users. And the +1 network seems to be designed primarily to influence Google search, rather than to actually encourage users to socialize with each other. In that sense, it’s another sign of former CEO Eric Schmidt’s strategy of adding social as a “layer” to existing products.
As we’ve written before, the contrast between Google’s approach and Facebook’s approach couldn’t be more stark: Facebook was designed to be social from the ground up. Social features are the core functionality of the system, not something that gets bolted on after the fact. Google has spent the vast majority of its life not really caring about social features, and it shows. As Om has argued, social just doesn’t seem to be in Google’s DNA, and so far, there are no signs that it has been able to splice that kind of knowledge in from elsewhere.[…]
Will Larry Page’s attempt to rally the troops and incentivize them to get social actually have some tangible impact on Google’s ability to succeed in this area? That remains to be seen, but I’m skeptical. I think Google staffers are more likely to resent these moves rather than feel inspired, and resentment isn’t a great foundation for a new social effort.
The threat of punishment is not an incentive, but leave that aside. The deeper question is this: can Page socialize Google, but whatever means?
Wouldn’t it be better to create a skunkworks somewhere, one that is fooling with socializing existing Google tools, or devising more social replacements? Again, going back to the Liquid Email model, couldn’t a Google skunkworks figure out a more social email client, or more social calendaring?