Earlier this year, Google made a huge move by pulling its sixteenth employee, Susan Wojcicki, from leading ads, to running YouTube.
Wojcicki, who’s been called the “most important Googler you’ve never heard of,” has a big job ahead of her.
“There’s a perception that YouTube is punching below its weight,” Ynon Kreiz, CEO of Maker Studios, one of the leading management-production companies, told Nicole Laporte in a Fast Company profile of Wojcicki.
One of Wojcicki’s duties is to help YouTube monetise its audience more effectively. Part of that is finding ways for YouTube to further promote its home-grown stars — like Bethany Mota, the Epic Rap Battles duo, and 8-year-old Evan — to attract more high-quality, deep-pocketed advertisers to the service.
She also wants to make it easier for viewers to discover new content (users upload 100 hours of video every minute), and to make video quality and streaming even better (the goal is to make sure videos can play in HD on any device with no lag).
Wojcicki can’t tackle these goals alone.
In the last few months, she’s made a bunch of internal “hires” to help build out YouTube’s tech offerings, plucking veteran Googlers away from their old posts to help support YouTube’s big ambitions.
Meet the team Wojcicki pulled together to build up the YouTube powerhouse:
Venkat Pankapachesan, VP, Engineering, YouTube
Been a Googler for: 4+ years
Current focus: Managing all engineering across YouTube, including viewer features, creator features, and the infrastructure that makes it all work
Previously: Managed all engineering efforts for Gmail, Docs and Calendar
Fun fact: Panchapakesan received the corporate “bridge builder” award from former President Bill Clinton while he chaired the American India Foundation in 2006. He’s also a jet-setter, and has traveled around the world enough that he’s gone the equivalent of going to the moon (238,000 miles).
Udi Manber, VP, Engineering, YouTube
Been a Googler for: 8+ years
Current focus: Manages all engineering related to search and discovery on YouTube.
Previously: Worked on search for 25+ years, most recently at Google search.
Fun fact: Manber can play a lot of musical instruments, including clarinet, harmonica, saxophone, and guitar. Before Google, he worked at both Yahoo and Amazon.
Fred Gilbert, Head of UX, YouTube
Been a Googler for: 7+ years
Current focus: Leads the design and research for all of YouTube, across all platforms.
Previously: He was the Head of UX for Google’s Social product area where he led products like Google+, Hangouts, and photos.
Fun fact: When not taking care of his two young children, Gilbert is teaching himself how to skateboard.
Emily Nishi, Director of People Operations, YouTube
Been a Googler for: 9+ years
Current focus: Head of HR for YouTube.
Previously: Led HR for various sales and operations organisations; founded Google’s global efforts in diversity and talent inclusion.
Fun fact: Nishi graduated from college and became a management consultant at only 19.
Nishi says the YouTube team has done enough hiring that it’s now expanding its headquarters to another building across the street.
“It’s exciting to join a growing team,” she says.