Google’s head of “geo and commerce,” Jeff Huber, is stepping down from the job – a source briefed on the news tells us.
The products under previously under Huber’s supervision were Payments, Wallet, Offers, Shopping, Local Search, Maps & Earth and Travel.
Google is splitting the group in two.
Longtime Google exec Susan Wojkicki will take over commerce (and continue to run Google’s ad business),
Another veteran, Alan Eustace, will take over “Geo” – aka Maps.
Huber, a long-time Google executive, will move to Google X, a group at Google dedicated to “Moonshot” projects.
He will no longer report to CEO Larry Page.
A Google spokesperson gave us this statement:
“Jeff is an extraordinary executive. He just finished his first decade at Google — having worked on some of our most complicated issues like ads, apps, payments and geo — and now he is eager to work in more of a start up like environment.”
Though he has some detractors, Huber is a mostly widely admired executive at Google.
His many defenders will tell you that if he failed at the head of Geo and Commerce, it was because he was put in a tough position by the ascent of Larry Page to CEO two years ago.
After Page ascended to the role in March 2011, he set about re-organising the company.
Most of this re-org was simple to conceive and execute. Page delineated Google’s major product and business lines and asked the leaders of those groups to stay in their jobs and just report directly to him.
Android boss Andy Rubin was asked to continue running Android. Chrome boss Sundar Pichai stayed on Chrome. YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar was told to just keep leading YouTube.
And so the re-org went – until it came to Google’s ads business.
For the eight years before Page became CEO, Google’s advertising business was run by two executives in partnership: Susan Wojcicki (her garage was an early Google office) and Jeff Huber.
When it came time for the re-org, Page, Huber, and Wojcicki had to decide if it still made sense for the ads business to have two leaders. Huber solved the problem when he went to Page and asked for a new challenge: something other than ads.
He got a group called Local & Commerce. The products under his supervision would be Payments, Wallet, Offers, Shopping, Local Search, Maps & Earth and Travel.
The organisation has been in disarray since. Many of the executives who reported to Huber have left the company, including Marissa Mayer and Stephanie Tilenius.
According to the senior executives we spoke to, Geo and Commerce was considered a particularly difficult group to manage for two reasons.
The first is that it is very large. With 2,500 people, it was the largest group at Google, not including Motorola Mobility. And that’s just full-time Googlers. The “Geo” part of the organisation – Local Search, Maps & Earth and Travel – has 1,100 full-timers and 6,000 contractors.
The second challenge with the job was that while the “Geo” side of it was, by 2011, already a mature business with lots of successful products, the “Commerce” part was very nascent.
Some Google sources we’ve spoken to in the past say that Huber was never given a clear directive on what the group was supposed to accomplish.
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