The Product Shakeup At Google Begins

Larry Page’s first day as CEO of Google again after ten years began with a shakeup at the very top of the company. Google’s longtime senior VP of product management, Jonathan Rosenberg, announced that he will resign. Rosenberg is an extremely well-respected executive who was often on quarterly conference calls with Eric Schmidt and helped guide the company for the past decade. If Schmidt was the adult supervision for Page and co-founder Sergey Brin, Rosenberg was the adult supervision and management mentor to the other young executives who filled Google’s management ranks, including Marissa Mayer, Susan Wojcicki, and Salar Kamangar.

Rosenberg was brought on by Schmidt years ago, and the two worked closely together. Rosenberg’s stated reason for leaving is that Page asked his senior team to recommit to Google for the long haul and he wasn’t planning on staying past 2013. That’s fair enough, but his departure also signals the possible start of a shakeup in Google’s product management ranks.

Page famously has a low opinion of managers, especially product managers who try to tell engineers what to do. “People don’t want to be managed,” he is quoted in Steven Levy’s new book, In the Plex. Page is a big believer in self-management. At one point early on in the company’s history, he and Brin tried to get rid of all managers.

Google is too large to be self-managed at this point, but many of its products are perhaps not as engineer-driven as Page would like. In certain areas, like social, Google’s products lack a certain oomph. So far, it’s been playing catch up in that area. Maybe Page wants his engineers to swing for the fences more even in areas outside their comfort zones.

No replacement for Rosenberg was named today.