Google's Page makes first changes to management

By @ibtimes on

Google Inc CEO Larry Page streamlined decision-making in six key product groups, including social networking and mobile, as the Internet search giant revs up efforts to compete with Facebook and Apple Inc.

Page, in his first major reorganization since taking the reins as CEO earlier this week, placed executives leading the groups directly under his supervision, eliminating management layers thought to slow product development, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Social networking chief Vic Gundotra, Android head Andy Rubin, Chrome senior vice president Sundar Pichai and Youtube head honcho Salar Kamangar have been given a direct reporting line to Page and greater autonomy, the sources said.

Also given a direct line to Page were search senior vice president Alan Eustace and advertising chief Susan Wojcicki, the sources said.

The management reorganization, one of the first moves by Page since taking the CEO baton from Eric Schmidt on Monday, signals the company's strategic priorities at a time when mobile gadgets and social media services redefine the way people use the Internet.

The folks that you're seeing, which as part of the reorg have kind of come to the top, are sort of the core areas of the business that the company is focused on, said one source familiar with the matter.

For those groups, the source said, the idea is to have less of a horizontal management structure, in which decisions need to be approved across various departments.

Social networking, an area where Google has struggled to find the right touch, will have a much higher profile within the company.

At least social is at the same table with Android and search and ads, said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Jordan Rohan. Social is now a big part of the discussion.

Google is the world's No. 1 search engine and generated roughly $29 billion in revenue in 2010. But the company's position as the main gateway to online information is threatened by Facebook, whose 500 million members regularly use the service to chat about everything from music and movies to world events.

Google has had greater success in mobile with its Android smartphone software. In the three months ending in February, Android became the most popular smartphone software in the United States, ahead of Apple and Research in Motion, according to a recent survey by research firm comScore.

A Google spokesman confirmed that there had been a management reorganization at the company, but declined to provide details. The spokesman noted that it had been very clear when the CEO change was announced in January that Page was looking to streamline the way the company is run and to make clear lines of accountability.

Investors had predicted bold and aggressive moves by Page to whittle down red tape at Google, and a renewed focus on search, mobile and technological innovation, following a decade under the leadership of former CEO Eric Schmidt. But some feared Page, who cofounded Google while a computer graduate student at Stanford in 1998, would neglect the crucial CEO's task of managing the expectations of Wall Street.

The management changes at Google also come days after the departure of Senior Vice President of Product Management Jonathan Rosenberg, who according to the company had intended to leave in the next year or two regardless. Of the promoted executives, several had reported to Rosenberg.

Shares of Google closed Friday's regular session down 0.3 percent at $578.16.

(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic, editing by Matthew Lewis)

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