Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

More Google Management Changes: CFO Patrick Pichette Adds BizOps and HR to His Duties

In addition to streamlining his product team, Google CEO Larry Page made some changes on the business operations side in his first week back on the job. SVP and CFO Patrick Pichette has added business operations and human resources to his duties, according to several sources.

Until now, business operations has been managed by Shona Brown, who had also once run “People Operations,” as human resources is called at Google.

More recently, HR has been run by VP Laszlo Bock, who initially reported to Brown and later directly to former CEO Eric Schmidt.

He will now report to Pichette, sources said.

Brown will narrow her duties to leading Google’s philanthropic efforts, via Google.org. She takes over from new business development VP Megan Smith (please see disclosure below), who has run “Dot Org” on an interim basis as its general manager since the departure of its initial high-profile Executive Director Larry Brilliant in 2009.

Google declined to comment on personnel matters.

Brown has been with Google since 2003 (which was well after Larry 1.0; Eric Schmidt became CEO in 2001). Here’s how my colleague John Paczkowski described her role last week:

Before she came to Google, Brown spent a decade consulting for McKinsey and is widely credited with optimizing Google’s internal structure.

But Page is not a McKinsey guy and he’s obviously not a big fan of Google’s current management organization anymore.

That might not bode well for the legendarily sharp-elbowed Brown who most sources describe as highly strategic but also as extremely difficult to work with.

Still, if Page is tinkering with the way Google is organized, Brown might also be the one he turns to to find a new structure.

That said, he seems to be fine doing it on his own and some suggest Brown will move to another role within the company rather than leaving.

Not all agree.

Said one source: “I wouldn’t be shocked to see Shona go. Frankly, I’m surprised she survived as long as she did, but then I didn’t think Rosenberg would last this long either.”

But, said another about Brown, who has previously taken time off from Google and returned: “I’d never count Shona out.”

Page’s big reorg aims to make the 12-year-old company he co-founded faster and more innovative to fend off the stagnation of middle age. The first step was removing long-time product chief Jonathan Rosenberg, followed by the elevation of seven long-time product leaders to senior vice president of their respective domains: Sundar Pichai (Chrome), Vic Gundotra (social), Andy Rubin (mobile), Salar Kamangar (YouTube), Alan Eustace (search), Susan Wojcicki (ads) and Jeff Huber (local and commerce).

And as for the newest big winner, Patrick Pichette? Unlike many of the others in Page’s inner circle, Pichette is a more recent Googler. After spending seven years at Bell Canada, Pichette replaced the retiring George Reyes in 2008.

Pichette has been a regular presence on Google quarterly earnings calls, the next of which is this Thursday at 1:30 PT. While whatever Google did in the first quarter of 2011 was surely interesting, the call should be the first public comment on the new Page regime. It will be a big test for Page, who notoriously loathes the public eye.

Meanwhile, Google’s management bio page should be sent packing to the Internet Archive any day now.

While it’s only a week out of date–my, how things have changed.

(Full disclosure: Smith is married to All Things Digital Co-Executive Editor Kara Swisher.)


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