Google veteran Doug Merrill, who had previously served as CIO and vice president of engineering at the search company, stepped down on March 24 from his role at EMI Group as president of EMI Music’s Digital Business unit and chief operating officer of its New Music unit.
Merrill joined EMI in April 2008, as the music company struggled to figure out a digital strategy. Although no reason was given for his leaving EMI, the blogosphere seemed rife with comment that not even an innovative Google exec could reverse the fortunes of a company of which principal investor, Terra Firma, had just had to take a 1.3 billion Euro loss on its investment.
Apple, thanks to its iTunes service, seems to be one of the few concerns in the music industry currently keeping its head above water.
“Douglas Merrill has today stepped down from his roles as president of Digital and COO of EMI New Music and will be leaving the company,” Elio Leoni-Sceti, CEO of EMI, announced in an internal memo that was later posted on All Things Digital. “I would like to thank Douglas for his contribution and to wish him well for the future.”
Before moving to EMI, Merrill was a leading figure at Google, which he joined in 2003.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal while at Google, Merrill described the IT organization of the company under his watch as “a lot more self-service.” Google employees were allowed to download their own applications and choose from a variety of machines and operating systems; Merrill said he didn’t want to place too many restrictions on how employees did their jobs and he trusted in network security built into Google’s internal infrastructure.
Then, on April 2, 2008, EMI Music announced that Merrill was being brought on board to head up the company’s digital music business.
“I have two passions. One is creating platforms and tools that make it easier for consumers to achieve their goals,” Merrill said at the time in a statement released by EMI. “The other is music.”
In interviews with other media venues, he expanded on how music had always played a critical role in his life and said he saw the music industry as a challenging arena ripe for experimentation.
His departure was part of a larger exodus of Google executives in 2008 that led some observers to say the search giant was experiencing a “brain drain” of its pre-IPO employees and others.
There has so far been no official word on Merrill’s next move.