Photo: Marissa Mayer/Google+
It’s the closest thing Silicon Valley has to Professor X’s School for Gifted Youngsters.For a decade at Google, Marissa Mayer ran the Associate Product Manager program, an elite training regimen for recruiting fresh talent into its ranks. Google chairman Eric Schmidt has said he expects one of its alumni to be CEO of the company one day.
And now that she’s running Yahoo, Mayer may make her own use of the connections she forged. Wired called the APM program, which takes in about 40 people at a time, Mayer’s “secret weapon” for recruiting talent.
Mayer started the program in 2002 because Google was struggling to find recruits who could work in the company’s consensual power structure. Experienced product managers from companies like Microsoft, used to top-down command, weren’t fitting in well. So Google instead puts raw recruits, often fresh out of college, through a two-year training program, including an international trip personally led by Mayer.
Google doesn’t expect its APMs to be lifers—after all, it’s looking for entrepreneurial talent. And many of them have gone on to start their own companies.
“We get two to four good years, and if 20 per cent stay with the company, that’s a good rate,” Mayer told Newsweek in 2007. “Even if they leave it’s still good for us. I’m sure that someone in this group is going to start a company that I will buy some day.”
Now that she’s running Yahoo, that’s more true than ever.
Rakowski was the very first associate product manager. We saw him in action at the Google I/O 2012 conference: He's an impressive and passionate presenter. Wired writer Steven Levy reports that Rakowski will now be running the APM program.
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