Xooglers and Management Expertise

January 16, 2014

Two items warranted posting on my white board.

The first was the somewhat ungainly local news service Patch. I noted this version of the action: “AOL Gives Up Control of Money-Losing Patch as Shares Rise.” Patch was invented by Tim Armstrong. AOL then bought Patch and hired Mr. Armstrong, a Xoogler. Or, maybe it was hired Mr. Armstrong and then bought Patch? Either way, the trajectory of Patch made clear that getting hired at Google and then becoming a real manager at a powerhouse like AOL were not congruent. Patch, according to Bloomberg, was “a pet project.” I assume it was like one of the old-school 20 percent free time projects except this one had an appetite for cash and served as a trigger for quite a bit of corporate explaining.

The second was the item I saw regarding another Xoogler’s management acumen: “He Was Fired: Here’s Marissa Mayer’s de Castro Buh-Bye Memo to Yahoo Staff.” Make that two Xooglers: the boss Xoogler at Yahoo Marissa Mayer and the number two at Yahoo, Henrique De Castro. I noted this passage:

During my own reflection, I made the difficult decision that our COO, Henrique de Castro, should leave the company. I appreciate Henrique’s contributions and wish him the best in his future endeavors.

Mr. de Castro will need a pick up truck to haul off his severance pay which is in the millions of dollars. Not bad for less than two years work.

The point is that some folks see getting hired by Google, flourishing in the Google greenhouse, and getting high praise from Googlers as the equivalent of management and operational expertise in the “real” world.

These two articles contain information that folks are mistaking Google employees with Google’s success. I would point to online advertising based on approaches developed by outfits like Overture as slightly more important.

My hunch is that AOL and Yahoo will generate further evidence about the management insights of Xooglers. Why are these Xooglers former Googlers anyway? Too bad I don’t have the energy to dig into the human resources angle. There are many azure chip consultants who can explain the why’s and wherefore’s.

Stephen E Arnold, January 16, 2014

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