Management caring deeply about their company’s products and using them every day is almost always a prerequisite of making great products. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg really does use Facebook all day. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo tweeted at least 30 times just yesterday. At the other extreme, I started at Apple under Gil Amelio, who used to have his emails printed out for him. On that basis alone it was hardly surprising he was a disaster.
So how about Google CEO Larry Page? It’s been over 3 months since Google+ launched, and he’s only made 7 public posts, including just one since mid-August. Turns out that’s still 7 more posts than Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has ever made. Since Google+ launched, Mr. Schmidt has found time to retweet Ivanka Trump’s promotion of “Snow Flower & The Secret Fan”, but apparently couldn’t find time to even join Google+. He’s nowhere to be found in the search results, and one can only assume he’s using his real name. He’s apparently also still using a Blackberry, so he’s hardly been a leader in the eat-your-own-dogfood department.
That seems to be a common problem for Google’s management when it comes to Google+:
Photo: Michael DeGusta
Only 3 of the 12 people listed on the Google Management Team page have ever made a single public post on Google+, totaling just 29 posts ever and only 6 in September.
It doesn’t stop with the board and the high level management. Going one level down to the 6 Senior Vice Presidents anointed in Larry Page’s reorganization last April still reveals a lack of engagement: 4 of the 6 SVPs have made no posts since August and they’ve managed only 9 posts ever, all but 1 of which were by Andy Rubin.
In total, of the 18 most senior people charged with overseeing Google, 11 have either not joined or have never made a single public post, and 5 have barely used it at all. Only Senior VP of Social / head of Google+ Vic Gundotra and SVP of Chrome Sundar Pichai have made any effort to seriously adopt Google+.
The Raw Data
Here’s the full table of public posts since the beginning of Google+. Note that I’m counting a photo album as 1 sharing event and also that Vic Gundora’s posts page seems to fail if you try to go back past mid-July, hence the data gap there.
MANAGEMENT Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct TOTAL Larry Page 2 1 3 1 0 7 Eric Schmidt Not on Google+. 0 Sergey Brin 0 9 3 3 0 15 Nikesh Arora No posts ever. 0 David C. Drummond Not on Google+. 0 Patrick Pichette 0 3 2 2 0 7 BOARD Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct TOTAL L. John Doerr No posts ever. 0 John L. Hennessy No posts ever. 0 Ann Mather Not on Google+. 0 Paul S. Otellini No posts ever. 0 K. Ram Shriram No posts ever. 0 Shirley M. Tilghman No posts ever. 0 SENIOR VP Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct TOTAL Alan Eustace No posts ever. 0 Vic Gundotra Unk 30+ 45 57 8 150+ Salar Kamangar No posts ever. 0 Sundar Pichai 0 16 20 17 5 58 Andy Rubin 0 7 1 0 0 8 Susan Wojcicki 0 0 1 0 0 1
1. “Google+ isn’t just about public sharing”
No, it’s not. But one of the key distinguishing features of Google+ is combining Facebook-style private sharing / friending with Twitter-style public posts / following. Even Facebook has now emulated this and Facebook’s management is far more active on their public feeds than Google is on theirs.
Further, I think it’s reasonable to assume a correlation between private use & public use: if you were constantly posting things on a service and each time you were given the option to make it public or private, surely sometimes you’d make it public, especially as a somewhat public figure wanting to help your own company’s new service get going.
2. “The board/top management shouldn’t be expected to use Google+”
Yes, they should – maybe not every member extensively, but not even a single post by a single non-executive member of the board? Can you imagine Fred Wilson not publicly using the major new product of one of his companies?
3. “Steve Jobs was really active on Ping?”
Ok, fair enough. But a music social network isn’t even remotely fundamental to Apple’s future whereas clearly Google thinks Google+ is central to its future.
4. “Google+ is really popular!”
Yes, it seems to be off to a good start. But management being disconnected from the company’s products bodes poorly for the long term – just ask HP.