"Was it something he said?" Large infrastructures in the Silicon Valley can sometimes be an inevitable by-product of success. However, the ramifications of such an growth can also stymie a company from advancing, as the layers of decision-making become a bureaucratic juggernaut. Such is the case at Google and of recent date, the founders are seeking to remedy the situation by jumping back into the fray, displacing its previous CEO, Eric Schmidt.
Last month when Eric Schmidt was critiqued harshly by none-other than Mark Zuckerberg for describing social media as "a layer" you simply add to a platform, it was reported widely that Sergey Brin would become the leader of Google's social media affairs - going forward. The speculation being - that CEO Eric Schmidt should not be the face nor the voice of Google's development of a social network. With a slew of failed attempts including Orkut, Google Buzz and the yet-to-be released Google Me, it was said Google co-founder Sergey Brin would take the reigns of a yet-another SM initiative, with the curious working title of "Google + 1."
This was followed up by the January 20th bombshell when Mr.Schmidt was asked to slide over into the Chairman's role to lay room for Google's other co-founder Larry Page to take on the title of CEO. In the statement, Schmidt noted his new role in vague terms including "government outreach," "thought leadership" and as "an advisor to Larry and Sergey."
So, why all the negativity surrounding Eric Schmidt? According to Search Engine Land editor-in-chief Danny Sullivan, he see's the man as as "kind of a lightening rod. . . whatever he says, it seems people want to paint him into a corner as a scary guy."
Notice who's no longer in the driver's seat!Bianca Bosker's Huffington Post report sees it a little differently. She feels that when Page and Brin were both in their twenties, they needed Schmidt's "adult supervision," (a description that Schmidt tweeted after the news of his stepping down was announced) and this justified the triumvirate's existence. However, it appears that this 'governance by committee' model is no longer working for Google, and "it may be too cumbersome to allow Google to innovate at Silicon Valley speed," says Bosker. To the contrary, "Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been known to boast of how much (their) company accomplishes with only a "little team," she adds.
In my opinion, the return of Page and Brin to Google's forefront is a necessary step if Google is going to remain one of the Internet giants, for yet another decade. Described by many as lacking the "social networking gene " and having to compete with young up-starts, such as Qwiki - which is taking search to whole new level with its integration with semantic technology (see previous post, "Social Media Takes Time Off For A Qwiki") - Google is in need of a more nimble team.
The Google of tomorrow has interlopers attacking and re-inventing its model from all corners of the digital frontier, and if its not 'fleet of foot' it could find itself falling significantly behind in the race for future dominance. As forecasted in the graphic novel satire "Facebucks & Dumb F*cks," it's predicted that Facebook (aka Facebucks) is laced up and ready to displace Google (aka Gobble) as the front-runner.
Page from Facebucks & Dumb F*cks graphic novel