What would you do if you won the lottery? Would you continue to slog away at your job assembling cars, bagging groceries, or writing code? If you joined Google before it went public or even in the aftermath, it was like winning the lottery. Douglas Merrill is leaving to join EMI Digital as president after more than four years at Google, prior to the August 19, 2004, public offering.
As vice president of all internal engineering and worldwide support, Merrill will walk away with a fortune. What do you do after more than four years of incredibly intense and rewarding work, knowing that you could live like a king for centuries if you lived that long?
Like other Google employees who have left after some serious vesting, Merrill gets to try something new, in his case running the digital arm of music giant EMI. It may be his dream job.
In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, the 37-year-old Merrill discusssed his Google-honed IT management approach. Prior to Google, Merrill worked at the RAND Corporation, was a senior manager at PriceWaterhouseCoopers and a senior vice president at Charles Schwab.
Fifteen years ago, enterprise technology was higher-quality than consumer technology. That's not true anymore. It used to be that you used enterprise technology because you wanted uptime, security and speed. None of those things are as good in enterprise software anymore (as they are in some consumer software). The biggest thing to ask is, "When consumer software is useful, how can I use it to get costs out of my environment?"
Google Apps is hosted on my infrastructure, and (the Premier Edition) costs roughly $50 a seat. You can go from an average of 50 megabytes of (e-mail) storage to 10 gigabytes and more. There's better response time, you can reach email from anywhere in the world, and it's more financially effective.
I suspect his role at EMI will be more than evangelizing the company on how the benefits of cloud computing, Google Apps, and reducing IT costs. Maybe EMI created a job for him to do something special with the Beatles' recordings, for which the EMI Group holds the rights. It's just another data management and monetization problem to solve.