“Unless she came in one day and asked for a change after 10 years of working on the same thing, the answer is probably yes,” says a source familiar with Google’s internal politics.
Another source, also familiar with Google‘s inner-workings told us it would “not really” be fair to call the move a demotion, “but I can see how some may see it that way.”
Both sources agree that Marissa’s promotion to Google’s operating committee (known internally as the “OC”) is a very big honour – “a huge deal, not done lightly.” Maybe elevation to the OC is very rich consolation prize. One source suggested it’s like a lifetime achievement award.
Demotion or promotion: the fact is that Marissa is no longer in charge of the technology world’s most lucrative product, Google Search, and that can only weaken her influence at Google and in Silicon Valley.
Location is definitely important–Google faces competition from upstarts like Foursquare there, and location is critical for mobile search, which is one of the businesses Google is hoping will spur the next 10 years of growth. But core search and AdWords are still king. That’s where the money comes from today, and why the engineers in those groups are treated like kings.
Bing is still miles behind Google in market share, but it’s growing. It’s also had some innovations in the last year that caught Google napping, particularly the introduction of real-time search of Twitter feeds last October, which caused Google to rush out with a quick “me too” announcement. Shooting back with Google Instant was a good move, but may not have had the impact Google expected.
More recently, Google CEO Eric Schmidt named Bing as Google’s number-one competitor. (Although this could also have been an attempt to inoculate the company against antitrust regulators looking for the next monopoly to beat up on.)
We don’t know what Bing is set to announce this morning, but possibilities include the incorporation of Facebook user data to make search more relevant and integration of Bing Maps with Facebook Places. Also, as S.K. Neff of Politically Illustrated pointed out, Microsoft has demonstrated a version of Bing based on HTML 5, the emerging standard for online interactivity that could someday take the place of technologies like Flash. That’s the kind of cutting-edge innovation we’d expect from the market leader.