Twitter has hired Alexander Macgillivray, Google’s associate general counsel for Product and IP, as their new General Counsel, we’ve confirmed. Macgillivray is still an employee of Google, and his start date at Twitter has not yet been determined.
We’ve been sitting on the story all day and were trying to talk with Macgillivray because our understanding is that he may not have told Google that he was going to Twitter and we didn’t want to be the one’s to break the news. But the story broke on the NY Times, so I’m guessing they know all about it now.
We’ve also confirmed that Twitter is aggressively hiring across the board, including top executive spots. A number of candidates have been interviewed for the CFO job in particular.
Macgillivray, a former Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati attorney, has been a key figure in Google’s legal battles over their book scanning efforts. The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the matter.
Macgillivray is leaving Google at a crucial time. The books settlement is a key antitrust issue that needs to be handled delicately, and he was leading the charge (or, perhaps, retreat). Google will be scrambling to fill his role.
One problem Twitter has had in attracting key executives, multiple sources have told us, is the impression that they may sell the company sooner rather than later. They have told candidates that they intend to stay in it for the long haul, and don’t plan to sell any time soon.
Update: his blog post:
Working in Google Legal has been a dream job. The people at Google are phenomenal. In every part and at every level of the company there are great people with multiple useful talents in addition to those that got them the job. For a lawyer, the issues we dealt with every day were fascinating, the real-world impact of our work was humbling, and the ethical compass of the place remained true
Among many other things, I am proud to have been part of the legal department that helped:
Increase transparency for removals: Google remains the only search engine that sends legal notices to ChillingEffects.org to document search results suppressed for legal reasons.
Stand up to the Department of Justice: Google was the only search engine provider that stood up to the Department of Justice’s overbroad request for search query information.
Launch Google Book Search: Google is making books easier to find by using fair use for a great purpose and is working to expand access to books through the Book Search settlement.
Stand up for users: In my experience, Google does “focus on the user.” Google Legal is no exception in its decisions about everything from global product functionality to individual removals. As a result, we’ve been threatened or sued many times for user-focused functionality and what our users have said through our services.
There are many other examples, and many more that are confidential or privileged, but these give you a flavour of the types of things the Google legal department gets to do. I still can’t recommend it highly enough (really, go check out the jobs page).
Thank you Googlers, it was an honour.