by Greg Sterling
When Larry Page took over the CEO role at Google last year the company was doing well. Now it’s doing better and so Investor’s Business Daily has named him “CEO of the Year.” The publication summed up its rationale as follows:
[Page] reorganized the company’s management structure, redesigned the face of the company’s products and pushed forward with a multibillion dollar deal to acquire a cellphone manufacturing outfit.He also launched two other products aiming at Groupon, the leader of online coupons, and Facebook, the top social networking site.
Google (GOOG) in the past two quarters blew away analyst views while boosting revenue by 32% and 33%, respectively.
Page officially took over from Eric Schmidt in April (with the CEO switch announcement almost exactly a year ago). We wrote a number of articles at the time speculating about the rationale for the change and outlook for Google under Page’s leadership:
- Larry Page Takes The Helm As Google CEO Today
- Was It Time For A Fresh Face? Thoughts On Larry Page As The New Google CEO
- A To Do List For Google’s New CEO Larry Page
- Larry Page And The Reinvention Of “The Google”
- Google Turns To Page: The Day Two Narrative
Page has done a number of major things since taking over in April:
- Reorganized Google’s management structure for efficiency and faster decision-making
- Launched Google+ (and Google Offers)
- Shuttered numerous products and initiatives (and brought more focus)
- Bought Motorola Mobility (for $12.5 billion)
Most impressively however Page (and team) were conscious of the dangers of falling into a kind of bureaucratic malaise as the company matured — and sought to intervene in real time. There was already some evidence that it was happening. But to a large degree bureaucracy and its related challenges are a natural function of growth and maturation.
Companies periodically need to be “reinvented” or “shaken up” or they lose the qualities and momentum that made them successful. But reorgs can also go badly wrong. And while Page hasn’t “reinvented” Google he certainly has brought decisiveness and clarity, which seems to have reinvigorated the company in several respects.
What’s also interesting is that these changes internally are mirrored in a different way externally in Google’s increasing marketing polish and sophistication. Google’s consumer-facing TV commercials are an example — in particular its recent Muppet-themed TV promotion of Google+:
The commercial is not only clever it was likely expensive to produce. Google had to obtain the rights to the Queen-David Bowie song “Under Pressure” and gain agreement from Disney for use of the Muppets in the spot. It’s also not something that one would have imagined from Google as recently as a couple of years ago and reflects a philosophical shift toward consumer marketing. We can see it in the way Google is now marketing Android too.
Having said all that, Page still faces many challenges and the road ahead is lined with legal potholes. Indeed, Page is under more legal pressure, so to speak, than was his predecessor Eric Schmidt. And 2012 should bring some of that to a head, at least in Europe.
Yet, so far, Page’s tenure has been impressive. In less than a year, he has managed to accomplish almost everything he set out to do.