Gray Goes Google: Page Responsible for Talent Retention

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-08-22 Print this article Print

Facebook's poaching of Googlers has been going on since about 2005 or 2006, but it really came to a head in March 2008 when the social network revealed that it had lured Google's chief ad executive Sheryl Sandberg.

Sandberg, who would eventually lure her former ad comrade David Fischer from Google, has been the COO ever since and has been kicking tail, with the company's social ad business taking off.

After Sandberg joined, scores of Googlers followed. It was as if some Cool Light switched on proclaiming Facebook as the next Google-like rocket ship to stock superstardom.

Suddenly, it was decidedly uncool to work at Google. Facebook hired several more Googlers, who would become known as Xooglers, along the way.

I made this list of some of the key poached people last November, culminating with Xoogler Lars Rasmussen, whose Google Wave project the search engine killed last August following a big FAIL.

When I wrote the list, I wondered when the exodus would stop. I think it has and here's why: new CEO Larry Page and his management streamlining. No more executive vice president of product management Jonathan Rosenberg or Eric Schmidt gumming the works.

Look at this comment by new Google+ Product Marketing Manager Louis Gray, who joined the company today:

In the last few months, as I talked with future colleagues at Google, I asked about how one person can make an impact at such a company. I asked about the potential for slowness and bureaucracy, and each time, employees talked about its revitalization under Larry Page and acting like a startup with incredible resources.

The bolding above is mine. Page took the reins from Schmidt in April. Since that time, I have not read about a single key Googler leaving for Facebook, Have you? Please point me the way.

I think the exodus of Googlers to Facebook has, if not stopped, slowed to a trickle and I think Page is largely responsible.

People didn't like the direction Google was going before and now they are sticking around to see what Google does. So what has Google done since April?

It's both expanded and contracted. Gone are Google Health and Google PowerMeter. Offloaded is App Inventor for Android to MIT.

In came the +1 button in March, mucho announcements at Google I/O, including the presentation of Google Chromebooks, Android@Home and other cool stuff.

Page followed those up June 28 with the Google+ social network, which has proven popular in less than two months of action.

Page's coup de grâce came last week with the purchase bid for Motorola Mobility, a bold prophylactic measure against patent suits.

All of these things do indeed make for exciting times at Google. The only thing I'm not buying is that Google is behaving like a startup. Startups don't buy phone makers for $12.5 billion.

Internally, it might feel like a startup to college grads or new hires, but we media know the truth. Google is the 800-ton Kraken with tentacles in all facets of the Web, besieged on all sides by incumbents and startups. Lots of fear and loathing going on.

Kraken google.png |

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