Google Shakes Up Its Philanthropic Division


It looks like Google is getting more disciplined, reorganising, its philanthropic arm, to become a more tightly focused organisation.

Through the company’s official blog, Dr. Larry Brilliant announced that he’d be stepping down as director of He will now be Google’s Chief Philanthropy Evangelist, whatever that means. Brilliant writes that this move came after assessing’s performance over three years. It became clear that he was best suited at finding “big ideas.”

Taking over for him is Megan Smith, who will become’s General Manager, “in addition to her existing role as Vice President of New Business Development.”

Brilliant: One of the first things that Megan will focus on is how can best achieve its mission. During our review it became clear that while we have been able to support some remarkable non-profit organisations over the past three years, our greatest impact has come when we’ve attacked problems in ways that make the most of Google’s strengths in technology and information; examples of this approach include Flu Trends, RechargeIT, Clean Energy 2030, and PowerMeter. By aligning more closely with Google as a whole, Megan will ensure that we’re better able to build innovative, scalable technology and information solutions. As a first step, Google has decided to put even more engineers and technical talent to work on these issues and problems, resources which I have found to be extraordinary.

At first blush it looks like Google is pulling its philanthropic arm closer to what makes sense from a business perspective and further from mere altruism. Though Brilliant promises Google will continue to invest “1% of Google’s equity and profits to philanthropy, and we will continue to iterate on our philanthropic model to make sure our resources have the greatest possible impact for good.”

Larry Brilliant photo via Wikimedia