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Startup Mentality Keeps Google Fresh

March 7, 2011

Larry Page, co-founder of Google Inc., is taking a more visible and stronger turn at the helm of the internet giant in a move to keep ahead of upstart players such as Facebook and Twitter. The Silicon Valley company isn’t waiting for the chief executive chair to be vacated in April by Eric Schmidt. Page has hit the ground running by tapping into the energy of other quick-thinking and fast-acting entrepreneurs bought with Google’s sizable war chest.

“Any engagement that Google can have with the startup community, with entrepreneurs, we learn and we are inspired,” David Krane of Google Ventures, an arm of the firm that invests in new ideas and young companies, told AFP. “We need to be close to the people who are moving quickly and chasing big dreams at the early stage.”

“Because that can influence and shape the way that we run as we try to fight off some of the natural side effects that come as a company gets larger.”

After its fabled beginnings by fellow Stanford University students Sergey Brin and Page in 1998, Google has grown to a global powerhouse with 25,000 employees in far-flung locations. The gathering of startup companies have brought technology and talent under Google’s wings with entrepreneurs helping keep in-house engineers tuned into startup-style thinking and innovations.

“I feel it is more that we are having an impact on Google versus Google changing us. That is a good strategy for bigger companies to stay on the edge and inoculate the organization with fresh thinking and different perspectives,” says Jonathan Sposato, the founder of two startups bought by the ruler of the internet search market.

In early 2010, Google bought DocVerse at an estimated $25 million and put founder Shan Sinha to work on a Cloud Connect service that lets people collaborate online with Microsoft Office documents. “There is definitely merit to the idea that entrepreneurs can bring unique perspectives,” said Sinha, who worked at Microsoft before starting DocVerse.

“You bring risk-taking personalities in to rethink the way markets and products should be working.” Sinha’s team, in one of Google’s fastest growing products, sells web-based Gmail to businesses. “While Google has grown to the point that its gaze is naturally drawn to bigger markets, entrepreneurs are often keenly tuned into smaller markets that could explode into big trends,” Sinha concluded.

“Google firmly believes it should have a startup culture,” said Danny Sullivan of search news website Search Engine Land. “That core foundation is what Larry and Sergey remember,” he continued. “They like to have those kinds of people around Google.”

Chief executive for the last decade, Eric Schmidt, will step aside in April for Larry Page. Sergey Brin will be responsible for strategic projects and new products.

Schmidt, 55, a former chief executive of Novell, is to remain with Google as executive chairman, focusing on deals, partnerships, customers and government outreach. He will also act as an adviser to Page, who turns 38 this month, who served as CEO previously, from 1998 to 2001, and 37-year-old Brin.

In a blog post, Schmidt said: “Larry, Sergey and I have been talking for a long time about how best to simplify our management structure and speed up decision making.”

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