Google saw two high-level departures last week, with AdMob founder Omar Hamoui and Google Maps and Google Wave creator Lars Rasmussen.
Who knows what Hamoui is doing, but Rasmussen has gone to Facebook, the latest of the 20 percent of former Googlers who now make up Facebook.
Google confirmed both departures in different statements to me. For Hamoui, Google was effusive in its praise, pointing to the $1 billion run-rate that Google’s mobile ads are operating at:
“Omar has decided to leave AdMob and Google for personal reasons. He built a fantastic business in a short period of time, and we wish him all the best. Mobile advertising — across search and display — is now a billion dollar business for Google, with AdMob a key part of that. Google is fortunate to have a great team of leaders who are driving the next phase of rapid growth and innovation across all our mobile ads products.“
I don’t have an issue with Hamoui’s departure. AdMob is a proven asset, churning fine revenues for developers looking to insert ads within apps for Apple’s iPhone.
Google and AdMob just launched interactive video and interstitial ads on Android handsets, the key breadbasket for Google’s mobile ad aspirations. The $1 billion run-rate speaks for itself.
About Rasmussen’s departure, Google said: “Lars made great contributions to Google in innovative products like Google Maps and Google Wave. He was also instrumental in starting engineering in the Google Sydney office. We wish him all the best.”
Rasmussen created Google Wave and unveiled it at Google I/O in May 2009 to a tremendous reception, with people literally applauding.
The service gained 1 million users within months of its opening to beta users and was launched to all at Google I/O in May 2010. In August, Google pulled the plug on Wave, deciding it wasn’t worth the time or financial investment.
Rasmussen told the Sydney Morning Herald — he lived and worked in a Google office in Sydney — that he was disappointed Google pulled the plug early.
“It takes a while for something new and different to find its footing, and I think Google was just not patient.”
That’s fine, but couldn’t Google throw him a bone and let him pick his project to work on? Maybe it did and he didn’t like the choices.
Is Google giving up on projects too easily as it seeks to find new revenue streams? Perhaps. Is the sky falling on Google? No.
Google has a lock on search advertising, and now its mobile and display ad businesses are operating at a combined $3.5 billion run-rate.
If mobile through Android and display via YouTube continue to propagate, these other projects will remain marginal, throw-them-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks affairs.
It’s where the engineers who see their babies aborted go that is more disturbing: Facebook. Indeed, it’s a sign that, just as Google unseated Yahoo as The Cool Internet Company, Facebook is taking the mantle from Google.
Actually, it’s already taken it. Google just doesn’t know it. Guys like Rasmussen, who built the Google Maps product that is a hit but will be more successful as the company leverages it for location, know it. They also know it’s good to get in early on the pre-IPO shares.
All of those reasons are why he, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Android Product Manager Erick Tseng and other key Googlers left Google for Facebook.
Glen Kelman over at the Refin blog said he did some counting and found that of the 2,174 current Facebook employees with a LinkedIn profile, 378 cited Google in their work history, or nearly 1 in 5.
That’s much more than the 200 ex-Googlers the New York Times cited last month.
The exodus from Google to Facebook has gotten so out of hand that soon the 20 percent time frame used to describe the free time Googlers have to program cool stuff (such as Google News) may be reassigned to denote that, 20 percent of the time, Googlers leave for Facebook.
Too cute or flip for you? OK, I’ll back off, but Google could use the levity. Google’s core businesses are fine, but Facebook stands to benefit from the excess talent Google is clearly mismanaging.