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Google Loses Another Exec: CIO Douglas Merrill Goes To EMI
from John Furrier that Google Chief Information Officer Douglas Merrill is
leaving the company to become president of EMI. News.com
of his departure from Google and says sources also say he’s going to EMI. The
New York Times also has sources saying he’s headed to the music company.
Merrill’s departure (recently profiled
here in Information Week) comes less than a month after another senior exec,
left Google for Facebook. Brain drain? Sort of, but more a question of how do
you keep rich top execs challenged, I’d say.
Brain drain? Yes and no. Both Sandberg and Merrill were well respected and
important execs for Google, to my understanding and own opinion. But both were
also pre-IPO employees who don’t likely need another job for money reasons. I
can’t see their departures as a brain drain due to Google itself not being an
attractive place to work. Rather, I think they are symptomatic of another
issues. Pre-IPO execs at Google, having gained financial wealth, still crave
something else — to show that they can thrive and excel out from under the
Let’s go back to Sandberg. Kara Swisher had a
good exit interview with her, where Sandberg said:
"I was not looking in a big way, but I was seeking a new challenge either
internally or externally after six years at Google building the online sales
team," she said
Clearly, that challenge wasn’t to be had at Google. If it were, Sandberg
would still be there. And so would Merrill, likely. Instead they — and no doubt
top pre-IPO execs to come — are going to seek out challenges elsewhere. I don’t
know if that’s a brain drain as much as Google perhaps being
Of course, we do continue to have other departures from Google. Just scroll
Google Employees archives and you can see the posts about people who’ve
gone. Adam Bosworth, formerly of Google Health,
left last September.
"Godfather" of AdSense, Gokul Rajaram,
left in November.
Salman Ullah, director of corporate development,
went last October.
Numerous product managers and others have called it quits.
Last week, Facebook gained yet another Googler — Ethan Beard, former social
media director at Google.
A Google Friend Is Now Facebooks from the New York Times has more about
that, along with other Googlers who are now Facebookers. And
Stop the Brain Drain? from Wired lists more notable people to leave Google.
Some of these departures I’d say more accurately fit the brain drain category
— that Google’s got good people who are choosing to work elsewhere for a
variety of reasons — greater challenges, less bureaucracy, more chance to shine,
and significantly much higher chance of a bigger payday. Google’s not minting the
multi-millionaires these days, plus no doubt many recent employees are finding
their stock options are "underwater," where they could buy Google shares much
more cheaply on the open market than using options that were supposed to be an
incentive to join with and stay at Google.
As I said, Google’s still an attractive place to work. Fortune
just rated it tops
for 2008, and BusinessWeek
recently profiled 15
happy employees. But it’s also a maturing company, far past its exciting
start-up days and facing the pressure of how to attract and keep the talent
that’s attracted to the challenges and potential pay-offs that start-ups give.
For more, see related discussion on