Google chiefs Eric Schmidt, Larry Page and Sergey Brin got themselves a new voice for the executive suite, a fact that was either glossed over or misinterpreted during yesterday’s earnings call. But Omid Kordestani is hardly a new face on campus.
Google announced that Kordestani was moving from his position as senior vice president of global sales and business development, which has provoked considerable hand-wringing; Google has lost a bit of talent in recent weeks, leading to fears of a brain drain at Googleplex:
“his decision to step down follows the departure of several other high-profile executives in Google’s sales organization — signaling even more strongly that the bloom is finally coming off the rose.“
My immediate reaction, however, was more concern over the kind of advice this sales guy would bring. In the world of business, sales guys are like short order cooks, able to produce under pressure and bring in the cash. But they’re not necessarily creative chefs who can cook up signature dishes for big-name eateries.
Too often, high-performing salespeople blackmail management to get top jobs in the organization, often during difficult times when the company is looking for answers, or a savior. And we all know how critical salespeople can be of operations, which they often see as inefficient and insufficiently results-oriented, because they themselves are driven by short-term goals. The top salesperson isn’t always the best leader, however, and it can spell disaster if they get promoted above their level of expertise.
That isn’t, however, the case in this instance. Kordestani is a long-time veteran at Google, so not only does he understand the culture at Google, he’s part of what makes it. He was also the architect of key deals with Netscape and Yahoo that allowed Google to truly emerge and position itself for an outstanding IPO.
From what I’ve seen, Kordestani will be one more hand at the helm of a company that is probably big enough to need another senior voice. Kordestani could even be being groomed as a successor to Schmidt–not that the CEO is going anywhere, but being CEO of a behemoth like Google is physically draining and emotionally challenging. Any large organization needs a solid contingency plan, and Kordestani is the kind of figure that could reassure investors in the event of Schmidt’s unexpected departure.
Kordestani is being replaced in the sales organization by Nikesh Arora.