Watch Google go Hollywood as they turn into an ad company
The culture split between Yahoo and Google is Hollywood versus the nerds, according to most journalists (take, for example, a CNET compare-and-contrast article from 2005). Yahoo is the one that brought in TV and film execs like CEO Terry Semel and "went Hollywood," a move often blamed for the company's financial and cultural woes. But so has Google, as a corporation and as an executive team.
Google is, of course, an ad company. All but a negligible slice of Google's revenue comes from advertising, and Google is expanding its ad business (into newspapers and radio) as it trims its product line, consolidating its engineering work. The press pays attention to Google's ad business, but only from the deal side. When it's time to run a "corporate culture" article, everyone flocks to Google's engineering department, where they're greeted by engineers with Mouse Trap contraptions on their desks — and perky VP Marissa Mayer, who apparently holds 14 meetings a day in between 14-hour e-mail marathons.
Do ad salesfolk get 20% of their time to do personal projects? (Granted, word is that even engineers don't really get that any more.) Are advertising experts told they're special people running the world? Did Larry Brilliant ever chastise Wired for doubting the excellency of advertising professionals as he did in this exchange?
Are engineers really the best source for solutions to the world's biggest problems? I hope that you'll put in that Wired questioned the value of engineers.
And while the best engineers may be quirky, adorably camera-shy nerds beloved by TV interviewers, the best ad salespeople aren't so cuddly. (They're rumored to be hotter, for one — no homely "love ya like a brother" charm needed here.)
They're not the only ones making Google slicker, of course. Co-founder Larry Page himself looks pretty L.A. when he's hanging at swanky San Francisco parties. Even his girlfriend, Lucy Southworth, is looking blonder and tanner than those old Stanford photos. The whole fights over king-sized beds in Larry and co-founder Sergey Brin revealed the boys' more extravagant side too.
So next time a lazy reporter pulls the old "Hollywood Yahoo vs. Silicon Valley Google," remember who brings the money into the supposedly nerdy company — a team of slick salespeople with a slick former nerd at the helm.