February 27, 2006 4:00 AM PST

Who's who of Google hires

Over the last two years, Google has lured some of the best and brightest minds in technology and science to join the search giant's lava lamp and snack-filled offices.

They include an award-winning physician, a pioneer of the Internet, the head of Amazon.com's A9 search unit, the former head of Microsoft's research group in China and an ex-top Windows architect.

If there's a master plan in recruiting all this top talent beyond the obvious benefit of having all that intelligence under the same figurative roof, Google isn't saying.

But the eclectic combination of world-class programmers, computer networking pioneers and even a famous epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox in India does offer insight into the strategic planning of Google's so-called leadership "triumvirate" of co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page and CEO Eric Schmidt. The new hires of Google's deepening talent pool make it apparent that they want to keep pushing the envelope on software and computer networking technology while expanding the business into China and, despite recent criticism, maintaining a laudable philanthropic attitude.

"They are basically like Microsoft was 15 years ago. People want to go there because it is the way it used to be," said Stephen Arnold, reiterating a refrain from his book "The Google Legacy." "They are identifying high-profile people who are influential centers and hiring them easily because Google is a magnet for talent."

As Arnold points out, it's not terribly difficult to figure out how Google is luring these big names. Despite its recent plunge, Google still has a stock price topping $370 a share, $8 billion in cash to spend, and a huge customer base. That's just the start. With a "20 percent time" policy for time set aside to allow engineers to work on pet projects, perks including free gourmet meals, and a reputation for being the best incubator for geeky projects since the days of Xerox's PARC, it's no surprise Google can hand-pick tech stars.

"Some of the hires are already successful and perhaps well-off, and are going to Google because they see it as a place where they can continue to make a mark. When you helped architect the Internet already, what do you do next?" said Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Watch.

One the boldest hires and biggest names was Vint Cerf, who was one of those Internet architects. Google landed him in September 2005. Cerf, who co-designed TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), was hired to help Google develop architectures and standards for next-generation applications, the company said at the time. He is also working on a new set of communication protocols meant to be used in deep space for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory aimed at creating an Internet communications connection between planets.

Chart: Who's who of Google hires

Last week, Google announced another top science hire, Dr. Larry Brilliant. He will be executive director of Google.org, the philanthropic arm of the company that is investing more than $7 million on issues related to global poverty, health, energy and the environment. Brilliant is an award-winning physician, friend of '60s icon Wavy Gravy, and an epidemiologist who spent more than a decade in India and, by the way, was also co-founder of the pioneering online community known as The Well.

Google spokeswoman Lynn Fox said no executives were available to discuss Google's hiring strategy for this story on Friday. She declined to comment beyond this statement: "We are proud to have such a world-class staff at Google."

Andy Hertzfeld, who worked on Apple Computer's original Macintosh development team and was hired by Google in August 2005, said the potential for changing the world is what attracted him to the Mountain View, Calif., company.

"Google is tremendous for users and customers. Google is a fantastic company that's doing a lot of good in the world, and I wanted to help them out," he said. Hertzfeld's title is software engineer. He said he's working on "various projects I'm not at liberty to discuss."

His hiring and that of a few others have led some observers to feverishly speculate that Google is developing an operating system that would compete with Microsoft. Google also hired Mark Lucovsky, former Windows architect and distinguished engineer at Microsoft, as a technical director in November 2004.

Another former Microsoft engineer is Adam Bosworth, who left his job as BEA Systems chief architect to be a vice president of engineering at Google in July 2004. Before that, he was a senior manager at Microsoft where he worked on XML and Microsoft Access PC Database.

The most controversial hire for Google was also a former Microsoft executive named Kai-Fu Lee. Microsoft sued Google after he was named president of Google China in July, arguing that the move violated a noncompete agreement that was part of his contract. Lee had worked on speech recognition for Microsoft and founded its China research lab in the late 1990s. The two sides settled the case in December.

Google also has tapped the ranks of Amazon and eBay for search experts. Earlier this month, Google hired Udi Manber, formerly chief executive of Amazon's A9 online search unit, to be a vice president of engineering. And sometime before last July--Google won't say when--the company quietly hired Louis Monier away from eBay to be a member of its technical staff. Monier founded AltaVista, one of the earliest and best search engines at the time.

CONTINUED: Thinking big…
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12 comments

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Posted by SqlserverCode (165 comments )
Reply Link Flag
too much of a good thing..
Microsoft used to hire in a similar fashion look at the mess windows is. Some times when windows break you can actually notice that someone simply neglected to do their job. One thing about big companies is that no matter how exciting they may seem, at the personal level your job is going to be fairly mundane. Alot of these people think they're going on a joy ride until they find themselfs writing code to make uploaded files save to the right directory, there is no excitement in that. Most of these people are clearly looking for challenge I don't think there is enough challenge to satisfy each of them, that is when we will start seeing crappy products from google.
Posted by bit-looter (51 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Message has been deleted.
Posted by Cyrus_K (60 comments )
Link Flag
Not that smart...
Google was started by Brin &#38; Page, not all of those VPs and
"smart" people from other companies. Those smart people
weren't really doing much anyway. Let's see:

Bosworth-BEA Architect - have you seen the mess that is
Weblogic?
Brilliant - well.com - ok, who ever used the well?
Cerf - what have you done for me lately?
Davidson - govt relations? hmm, not doing too well it seems.
Egan - Google Talk? Crappiest chat program out there.
Hertzfeld - worked on original mac team. Has been.
Lee - Google China - not much left after the censoring.
Lucovsky - MS architect - we all know what a mess windows is.
Manber - chief of amazon A9 - nobody uses that.
Monier - Alta Vista guy - got lunch eaten by Google already.
Moore - prof. of robotics. - distraction for Google.
Schrage - con. of foreign rel. - Google's not doing well in
relations dept.

Add up the salaries of these guys and I seriously doubt you will
get a positive ROI. You just get publicity that you're hiring a
bunch of smart people.

What value or advantages has Google gained by hiring these
people? Not much.
Posted by nazzdeq (74 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wrong assumption
Most of what you have pointed out shows genious mixed with a lack of management or opportunity. Google already has plenty of opportunity, and if they can manage well, which they appear to be doing, then the sky is the limit. All those smart people under one roof coupled with good manangement would make any company fearful, including Microsoft it seems.

The sky is the limit for Google and they are on a roll. They just need to figure out how to keep the momentum going. If they can do that, they will travel far and change the Internet landscape forever.

Google sees the value of the Internet probably more than any other company out there. Unlike Microsoft, they don't have a conflict of interest or to put it another way, a non-Internet product to protect.

They can innovate on the Internet as much as they like and according to their budget and vision, which they have plenty of.

I say good on them and I look forward to seeing their future offerings.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Link Flag
New OS
"... some observers ... feverishly speculate that Google is developing an operating system that would compete with Microsoft."

Google is definitly in a position to make such a move given enough time. But would google be able to live up to their motto of "Do no evil"? I sincerly doubt it, but I would still like to see them try. Google has been steadily pushing valuable and popular new tools. They have come up with some really great ideas, and bad ones. MS needs new ideas, not rehashed versions of ideas older then me. Google can deliver new ideas, but can they do so in a full OS? I hope that Google puts competition back into the consumer OS market, or at least prompts MS to get their act together!

Note: I realize that Everest-size problem that this would be considering how total and complete the MS OS monopoly is, but one can dream!
Posted by neonorm (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I wonder...
I wonder how many Chinese nationals they have working for them, and how many of those employees love it that they're working for their government while working for a major US corporation at the same time. Shame on google for being evil in how they've blocked so many websites from spreading the concepts of freedom and liberty to those who have none.
Posted by jimmy230984798 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Cheap Slave Labor
Google has hired H1-B workers in the past, and is
likely continuing to do so. I wonder if they are
getting the same stock option package and salary
as the big-name hires.

More likely, the H1-Bs at Google are being used
as subroutine coders, kind of like a cross between
The Matrix and that big row-boat in the Hercules
movies. Don't be Evil?

I suspect that the big-name hires are, at least
in part, being used as fig leaves.
Posted by (139 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Cheap Slave Labor II
On 9/6/2005, Google hired an H1-B Software Engineer
for a salary of $56202. This is a violation of
US immigration law, in that the prevailing wage
for such a job is around $92000.
(case I-05249-2022795)

On 08/29/2005, Google hired an H1-B Network
Reliability Engineer for a salary of $62000.
The Department of Labor prevailing wage database
does not have such a title, but I suspect that
this person would be making about 30% more, if
they had a green card.

On 02/07/2005, Google hired a Network Engineer
for a salary of $65000. This is also a violation
of US immigration law.
(case I-05038-1540433)

Between October 2004 and September 2005, Google
hired 260 H1-B workers.

Don't be Evil, Indeed.
Posted by (139 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Eric Schmidt is the biggest Mafia puppet in the US. He is bad news for apple users. http://endmafia.com
Posted by geo11101 (76 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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