News broke yesterday that Google vice president of search products, Marissa Mayer, will be taking on a new role overseeing location and local services. The debate is now focused on what this move means for the company’s direction and more specifically for her if this is seen as a demotion.
Mayer’s credentials are impressive and date back to 1999 when she started as one of Google’s first employee’s. For the last decade she has been at the helm of Google search products where she developed the company’s first search interface, expanded the site to more than 100 languages and helped introduce more than 100 features and products on the site, including the most recent ‘instant’ search feature.
Google hasn’t earned its leading reputation by sitting still. Even with the new innovations and search alliance, Google’s two thirds of the search pie aren’t likely to dramatically change anytime soon, so moving Mayer to local is seen as what’s next on the Google radar rather than what’s already been won.
This also hopefully indicates big changes for these local Google products and services. Google’s location based service Latitude is rarely mentioned in the same conversation as Foursquare and Gowalla despite the fact that Google is selling Android phones at such a rapid rate. Likewise, Google’s local map product has been undergoing monetization efforts that seem to miss the mark.
Many see this move as a demotion or a sign of failure on the search product side, which is ridiculous considering this move comes with a spot on the company’s operating committee. Joining the very exclusive operating committee is essentially as high as you can go without being on the board of directors. This is a strategic move as search is and will remain important, but where the search takes place (mobile and point of purchase) is rapidly changing and has become the future. I look forward to seeing what direction Google takes local in with Marissa in control.