Google AI: Who Is on First? I Do Not Know. No, No, He Is on Third

April 23, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

A big reorg has rattled the Googlers. Not only are these wizards candidates for termination, the work groups are squished like the acrylic pour paintings thrilling YouTube crafters.


Image from Vizoli Art via YouTube at

The image might be a representation of Google’s organization, but I am just a dinobaby without expertise in art or thing Googley. Let me give you an example.

I read “Google Consolidates Its DeepMind and Research Teams Amid AI Push” (from the trust outfit itself, Thomson Reuters). The story presents the date as April 18, 2024. I learned:

The search engine giant had merged its research units Google Brain and DeepMind a year back to sharpen its focus on AI development and get ahead of rivals like Microsoft,  a partner of ChatGPT and Sora maker OpenAI.

And who moves? The trust outfit says:

Google will relocate its Responsible AI teams – which focuses on safe AI development – from Research to DeepMind so that they are closer to where AI models are built and scaled, the company said in a blog post.

Ars Technica, which publishes articles without self-identifying with trust. “Google Merges the Android, Chrome, and Hardware Divisions.” That write up channels the acrylic pour approach to management, which Ars Technica describes this way:

Google Hardware SVP Rick Osterloh will lead the new “Platforms and Devices” division. Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s previous head of software platforms like Android and ChromeOS, will be headed to “some new projects” at Google.

Why? AI, of course.

But who runs this organizational mix up?

One answer appears in an odd little “real” news story from an outfit called Benzinga. “Google’s DeepMind to Lead Unified AI Charge as Company Seeks to Outpace Microsoft.” The write up asserts:

The reorganization will see all AI-related teams, including the development of the Gemini chatbot, consolidated under the DeepMind division led by Demis Hassabis. This consolidation encompasses research, model development, computing resources, and regulatory compliance teams…

I assume that the one big happy family of Googlers will sort out the intersections of AI, research, hardware, app software, smart software, lines of authority, P&L responsibility, and decision making. Based on my watching Google’s antics over the last 25 years, chaos seems to be part of the ethos of the company. One cannot forget that for the AI razzle dazzle, Code Red, and reorganizational acrylic pouring, advertising accounts for about 60 percent of the firm’s financial footstool.

Will Google’s management team be able to answer the question, “Who is on first?” Will the result of the company’s acrylic pour approach to organizational structures yield a YouTube video like this one? The creator Left Brained Artist explains why acrylic paints cracked, come apart, and generally look pretty darned terrible.


Will Google’s pouring units together result in a cracked result? Left Brained Artist’s suggestions may not apply to an online ad company trying to cope with difficult-to-predict competitors like the Zucker’s Meta or the Microsoft clump of AI stealth fighters: OpenAI, Mistral, et al.

Reviewing the information in these three write ups about Google, I will offer several of my unwanted and often irritating observations. Ready?

  1. Comparing the Microsoft AI re-organization to the Google AI re-organization it seems to be that Microsoft has a more logical set up. Judging from the information to which I have access, Microsoft is closing deals for its AI technology with government entities and selected software companies. Microsoft is doing practical engineering drawings; Google is dumping acrylic paint, hoping it will be pretty and make sense.
  2. Google seems to be struggling from a management point of view. We have sit ins, we have police hauling off Googlers, and we have layoffs. We have re-organizations. We have numerous signals that the blue chip consulting approach to an online advertising outfit is a bit unpredictable. Hey, just sell ads and use AI to help you do it without creating 1960s’ style college sophomore sit ins.
  3. Get organized. Make an attempt to answer the question, “Who is on first?

As Abbott and Costello explained:

Costello: Well, all I’m trying to find out is what’s the guy’s name on first base?

Abbott: Oh, no, no. What is on second base?

Costello: I’m not asking you who’s on second.

Abbott: Who’s on first.

Exactly. Just sell online ads.

Stephen E Arnold, April 23, 2024


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