Meet The Lawyer/Consultant Google Is Putting In Charge Of Its $12.5 Billion Dead Elephant

Dennis Woodside is president of americas at Google.

Photo: YouTube Screenshot / IABtv

Last week, Google selected Dennis Woodside, president of Americas at Google, to become the CEO of Motorola Mobility, according to a report by Bloomberg.That leaves Sanjay Jha, the current CEO, and his role up in the air. Google didn’t comment on the news, saying the Motorola deal hasn’t closed.

But, who is Woodside?

We spoke with a bunch of sources familiar with his role at Google, who have asked to remain anonymous. Here’s what we’ve learned:

  • He’s a long-time Googler to start. He’s been with the company since 2003.
  • Woodside was picked to take over Tim Armstrong’s position as head of U.S. sales (particularly AdWords and display ads) after Armstrong left to join AOL. Once source said he left that position “after a year or two.” (He was employed in the role for two and a half years.)
  • We’ve heard he’s close to Nikesh Arora, a senior vice president and Google’s chief business officer. One source said he was “well-liked” by Arora. He’s worked with Arora for “about a decade” and shares ambition with him. That’s good for your career prospects in Google these days, one source said. (Arora has been employed at Google for 7 years.)
  • He’s definitely an analytics guy — as most sales people are in Google — according to several sources familiar with Woodside. Sales leads like Woodside have to deliver presentations that are “mind-numbingly detailed,” which makes them naturally analytical, another source said.
  • Before Google, according to LinkedIn, Woodside worked at consulting firm McKinsey.
  • Before that, he was an M&A lawyer for Munger, Tolles & Olson.
  • One source said he’s “not charismatic” and has “poor leadership skills.”
  • According to Inside Apple, Steve Jobs tried to hire Woodside in the fall of 2011 to be Apple head of sales. He said no, of course.

Woodside has a huge challenge ahead of him. In January, Motorola announced holiday sales were much lower than expected.

As Henry put it the other day:

Motorola is a huge, sick elephant. It is a huge, sick elephant in a completely different business than Google’s.

Can he lead Motorola, a dead elephant that Google is about to strap onto its back, into something relevant for the search giant? We’ll find out.

Are you a current or former Googler that is close to Woodside? Let us know what you think! Shoot us a message at [email protected] or leave a comment below.

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