Google Illustration
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By Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google's reshuffle of its senior ranks underscores the Internet company's evolving business ambitions, analysts say.

Three years after co-founder Larry Page took the reins back as chief executive officer, his team of lieutenants is clearly undergoing a refresh.

On Thursday, Google (GOOG) announced the surprise departure of its veteran business chief Nikesh Arora, who will become vice chairman of SoftBank.

Arora represents the latest in a string of personnel changes within Google's top ranks over the past 16 months, affecting major divisions from Youtube to its popular Android mobile software.

In some cases, the moves appear to be the result of personal circumstances or opportunities. Arora's role at SoftBank represents a promotion, analysts say.

But a half-dozen other top executives have left or switched roles in recent months. They included the departed Vic Gundotra, who oversaw the Google Plus social network; and Salar Kamangar, who was CEO of YouTube before moving to another role.

Fresh faces now pictured on Google's senior management page include Craig Barratt, whose responsibilities include efforts building broadband networks and delivering wireless Internet access, and Lorraine Twohill, the head of marketing who was recently promoted to senior vice president.

It is unclear what motivated each individual move. But analysts say they suggest a general desire to have fresh eyes on key parts of the business as Google pursues growth areas.

"The opportunities they're chasing are so much bigger now," said BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis.

"They weren't digging up fiber four years ago. They didn't have Chromecast," he said, referring to Google's ultra-high-speed fiber network and a device for streaming Web content to televisions.

Google's transition to smartphones represents a key success in recent years. Now, it is seeking to extend Android's reach into televisions, smartwatches and cars.

This week, Google announced that former Ford Motor (F) CEO Alan Mulally was joining its board, bringing expertise and connections as Google seeks to play a bigger role in automobiles with its Android software and self-driving car technology.

Andy Rubin, credited with making Android a hit, is now focused on building another potential area of growth for the company: robots.

Other initiatives, such as the Google Plus network launched to take on Facebook (FB), appear to have receded in priority, with the service barely mentioned at this year's developer conference.

Meanwhile, Google's online advertising business remains a reliable money-making machine, with revenue up 22 percent to $16 billion in the second quarter. Arora's departure should not cause any major hiccups, analysts said.

He will be replaced for now by Omid Kordestani, one of Google's early sales executives.

"Google is a pretty efficient machine, so I think they'll be able to plug in the up-and-coming person," said Needham & Co. analyst Kerry Rice, referring to Kordestani. "I don't think it will be too detrimental."


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alfredschrader

It's amazing how Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have made several billion dollar charitable pledges, yet nothing has changed. Why ? Because it's pledges, not actual funds.
And even if they did give actual funds, giving away money changes nothing.
I know, I've done it.
To improve or change anything you have to hire people, give them the necessary tools, and then manage them, not write give away checks.
I've given away technology worth more than Buffett and Gates net worth combined.
Very little actually changed as a result.

July 20 2014 at 7:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom Harrell

So, is Google and Facebook and AOL and Mcafee and Microsoft and all the Rest of the Mega Corps doing Anything to Help the Middle Class of America ? ?
The SAME Middle Class of America that Purchases the Major Portion of their Products ? ? ?
I know it's "NOT THEIR JOB" to worry about Americans and their Families. Their Jobs are to make the Corp as much PROFIT as Humanly POSSIBLE off of those Americans and their Families.
I can Live with that. (I don't have a whole lot of CHOICE) What I have a hard time with, is buying a Product in the USA and getting Service FOR that Product 10,000 miles away

July 18 2014 at 9:50 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply