John Paczkowski

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Product Chief Jonathan Rosenberg to Leave Google

push_to_exit-300x213Larry Page’s tenure as CEO of Google began today with the departure of a trusted lieutenant. Jonathan Rosenberg, chief of product development, said Monday that he’s leaving the company.

A shocking departure. Curiously timed one, too. Why leave now?

Evidently Page has been asking Google’s executive committee to make long term, multiyear commitments to remain at the company and Rosenberg didn’t feel he could oblige. His plan had always been to leave Google when his kids neared college age. And he’s decided not to deviate from it. Given Page’s plan to revitalize Google and return it to its start-up roots, Rosenberg felt he owed it to him to move on now. Better to get the transition out of the way as Page works to recast the company than embark on it when the process is well under way.

“I think I’ve done the things that I set out to do,” Rosenberg told The Mercury News. “My focus has been on building a great team, and hiring the best people in the world. I think I’ve also been very focused in studying the manner in which we manage at Google, and working very hard on developing the next set of Google management talent. We’re obviously going through a transition here; Larry is stepping into the role of CEO. And I think it was important to him that he establish and build around an executive team that intended to be here for many, many years.”

Page praised Rosenberg’s legacy, one highlight of which was his 2009 companywide email titled “The Meaning of Open.” “We tried to hire Jonathan multiple times because he was the only person we could imagine doing the job,” he said. “It’s lucky we were so persistent because he’s built an amazing team–hiring great people who’ve created amazing products that have benefited over a billion users around the world.”

And freshly departed CEO Eric Schmidt, with whom Rosenberg plans to write a book, joined in: “Jonathan is phenomenal–hugely energetic, strategic, a man of real principle who always puts the user first. He’s been crucial to our success over the last nine years and I cannot thank him enough for everything he’s done. It’s been wonderful working with him–and great fun.”

Rosenberg plans to stay at Google through the summer, then do some consulting for the company after that.


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