Google: Do Top Jobs Going to Mayer et. al., Mean it’s a Great Training Ground, or a Place to Leave?
Last month Google (GOOG) came out with the Nexus 7 tablet, an Amazon (AMZN) Kindle killer. But while the Nexus grabbed headlines, Google has been steadily churning out another fancy product line: tech CEOs.
Melissa Mayer, Google’s first female engineer, is taking over Yahoo! (YHOO). Tim Armstrong, previously president of Google’s Americas operation, has been running AOL (AOL) since 2009. Sheryl Sandberg, once vice president of Google’s global online sales and operations, joined Facebook (FB) in 2008 as chief operating officer and just joined its board.
This says one of two things about Google. It could mean that Google is the General Electric (GE) of Silicon Valley, which would mean Larry Page is akin to Jack Welch. Remember how Welch, a chemical engineer, ran GE from 1981 to 2001:
GE is still famous for training managers, eventually with Motorola’s Six Sigma approach. Almost a decade after Welch’s retirement, the show 30 Rock based an episode on Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy inviting Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon to a corporate retreat to learn management secrets.
But this might be all wrong, maybe Google's not a leadership training ground, or just an overblown one. If that's the case, executives like Mayer could be leaving to break free. Google is still run by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Page, a computer engineer, used to be CEO. Then last year, he pushed out Eric Schmidt to take the job again.
In the past year, Google did worse than the market:
And it’s been unable to get investors (other than deep value investors) excited:
George Soros sold his stake this spring. According to CNET reported, investor Peter Thiel recently told Schmidt that Google is “out of ideas.” Maybe he meant it’s out of executives, or will be soon.