This unknown Google exec fought a brutal internal battle, and now he controls a $60 billion business

Over the past twelve months, Google’s ad products have generated over $US60 billion in revenues.

The man in charge of the engineers and product managers who build those ad products is Sridhar Ramaswamy.

It’s a big job. It took Ramaswamy a long time and a lot of scrapping to get it.

The Information’s Amir Efrati tells the tale in a new blow-by-blow story posted Monday.

It’s called “The Ascension of Google’s Sridhar Ramaswamy” and it’s worth reading.

Here are the highlights for people who don’t have a subscription:

  • He started in 2003, in what was once considered a “backwater” at Google — the ads group.
  • Ramaswamy was in charge of the many algorithms that make sure Google always orders the ads on its search results pages in the most profitable way. (Side note: For this, he deserves partial credit for the destruction of Yahoo, which used a simplistic straight auction to order its search ads. The difference in yield allowed Google to pay more for search distribution and eventually gain a practical monopoly.)
  • Ramaswamy keeps a low profile. He hardly ever speaks in public. He’s worth millions, but he drove a Honda till a couple years ago.
  • He’s sharp-tongued. Efrati reports that “he is blunt and unafraid to openly disagree with colleagues and subordinates.” And his attitude with subordinates was generally “sink or swim.”
  • He’s got a little Walter White in him. Back when Ramaswamy was first promoted to Vice President, he had a meeting with Google cofounder Larry Page. Page didn’t remember Ramaswamy’s name. Ramaswamy was offended. According to Efrati, Ramaswamy told a colleague his new goal was to make Page remember his name.
  • Ramaswamy fought a battle with other Google executives to prevent them from mining the search histories of Google users to improve ad-targeting on non-Google sites.
  • Ramaswamy’s biggest rival is Susan Wojcicki, one of CEO Larry Page’s oldest confidants. For a while, both of them were in charge of ads. During one particularly heated argument held in front of Google’s senior staff, Ramaswamy told Wojcicki: “Tell me what you really want to do…Just say it.” One person who was there says of the two: “They could barely be in a room together.”

Go read “The Ascension of Google’s Sridhar Ramaswamy” >>

We’d like to know more about Sridhar Ramaswamy and his colleagues. Email [email protected]

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