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Alphabet may have spent all of 2021 working remotely, but the revolving door of hot talent joining and leaving the search giant continued unabated.
It was this year that Google hired a new HR chief, a former FDA commissioner, and a new leader to run its navigation service. Its Cloud division also went through a leadership shakeup, which included the departure of several top executives. Google also lost the head of its self-driving car division, its health boss, and one of its brainiest AI scientists.
Here are Google’s biggest hires and departures in 2021:
Manor spent more than 14 years at Google, and joined Google Cloud in 2016 from YouTube. He was a key player in scaling Cloud’s platform and leading its engineering products, including Anthos, a product that lets clients run services across multiple cloud providers.
In November, cloud computing giant Twilio announced it had hired Manor as chief product officer, reporting to cofounder and CEO Jeff Lawson.
John Krafcik joined Google’s self-driving car project in 2015, before it was named Waymo, and quickly became the face of the company’s automotive bet.
Waymo has been something of a golden child among Google’s “other bet” companies, as the promise of self-driving technology becomes more of a reality, but it’s not been without its challenges. Krafcik announced his departure from Waymo in early April.
Waymo’s chief technology and operating officers, Dmitri Dolgov and Tekedra Mawakana, have stepped in to fill his shoes as co-CEOs.
Miriam Daniel was previously an executive at Amazon, where she played a key role in developing the company’s Alexa voice assistant and Echo smart speaker product line. She joined Google in November to lead work on its its maps and Geo products.
Daniel was instrumental in getting Alexa ahead of the smart speaker competition — a recent report shows Amazon’s platform dominating with almost 70% of the US market. But she won’t be working on Google’s voice assistant or smart-home products, at least for now.
Earlier this year, electronic-medical-records behemoth Cerner announced it had hired Dr. David Feinberg as its CEO and president.
Google had itself poached Feinberg, a well-respected healthcare leader and former chief exec of Geisinger Health, to lead its own internal efforts in 2018.
But Google Health battled fallout and public distrust from a controversial deal with the health system Ascension, struggled to hammer out its roadmap, and let major deals fizzle out along the way.
After Feinberg’s departure, the projects and teams that made up Google Health were spread across different parts of the company, according to an internal memo obtained by Insider.
Fiona Cicconi joined Google as its new chief people officer in January, filling the shoes of Eileen Naughton, who stepped down as Google’s HR chief last year.
Cicconi’s work was certainly cut out for her day one, with employee unrest over the ousting of Timnit Gebru, the launch of the first Google workers’ union, and the challenges of a company working entirely remotely in a pandemic.
Cicconi held chief HR roles at pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Roche before Google, and was a director of employee relations at Cisco Systems before that.
X is the name of Google’s experimental “moonshots” lab, and Obi Felten has nurtured some of its most ambitious ideas, including internet balloons and self-driving cars. Her title, like many at X, was creative: head of getting moonshots ready for contact with the real world.
Felten joined X in 2012, before it became its own operation under Alphabet, and has been instrumental in building out the non-technical aspects of X and shaping its culture. She also spearheaded Amber, a mental health project for treating and anxiety which, as is common with many X projects, was ultimately shut down.
Felten moved onto a role focused on recruiting leadership roles for X, but left X in June to co-found a new startup, Flourish. Flourish, according to her LinkedIn page, combines “cutting edge mental health science and technology to foster flourishing and good mental health.”
Caesar Sengupta, the longtime leader of Google’s Next Billion Users initiative and head of payments, announced he’d be leaving the company in April. Sengupta was a close friend of CEO Sundar Pichai, whom he had worked closely with during Pichai’s earlier years at the company.
Sengupta helped spearhead projects that took mobile access to public locations in India as part of its Next Billion Users initiative, while also overseeing a revamp of the Google Pay mobile app. Dozens of executives and employees departed the Google payments group following Sengupta’s exit, Insider reported earlier this year.
Chris Ciauri left Google Cloud in May after only a year and a half at the company. He had joined Google in September 2019 as president of the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region after nine years in a similar executive role at Salesforce.
During his time at Google Cloud, Ciauri recruited former Salesforce teammates Sanj Bhayro and Pip White to join him at Google, but neither lasted more than 18 months in their respective roles.
A Google Cloud spokesperson said at the time: “Chris Ciauri has decided to leave Google to pursue external opportunities. We are very grateful for his leadership during his time with us, and we wish him all the best for his future endeavours.”
Dane Glasgow joined Google in 2017 and steered its Geo products, including Maps and Google Earth. In June, Insider first reported that Glasgow had left for a VP role at Facebook (now Meta) to work on the social giant’s entertainment products.
Glasgow’s departure followed some restructuring within Geo, including the Maps sales team moving out of the Search organization and into Google Cloud.
It’s been a big year of change at Waze, the Google-owned navigation app. Former Waze CEO Noam Bardin, who announced he would step down late last year, departed in January. In June, former Hotwire president Neha Parikh stepped in to fill his shoes.
Parikh, a board member of Carvana, also previously held senior roles at hotel brand Expedia. Now she’s trying to drive Waze out of a pandemic that hammered its advertising business, while a string of departures in the company’s senior ranks is giving Parikh a chance to reshape the Google unit.
Adaire Fox-Martin spent three decades at enterprise tech giants Oracle and SAP before joining Google Cloud. But at the beginning of her career, after graduating from Ireland’s Trinity College, she taught high school in London.
“Teaching is the one job in the world where you are instantly the CEO of the 30 people sitting right in front of you,” she previously told Insider.
After switching to a career in tech, Fox-Martin spent the next two decades working her way up through the tech industry’s ranks, eventually becoming Oracle’s VP for Government, Education, and Healthcare for the APAC region.
Fox-Martin was hired in July after the departure of her predecessor Chris Ciauri, a Salesforce alumnus who moved to Google in 2019 but left after 18 months.
Dr. Amy Abernethy, a former Food and Drug Administration deputy commissioner, was a major get for Alphabet life science unit Verily — and a strong signal it plans to double down on one of its key moneymakers.
Abernethy joined Verily in July to spearhead Verily’s clinical-research business, which began with its Baseline program. Abernethy recently sat down with Insider to lay out her vision for Verily in 2022, which includes commercializing several features that were built for Baseline, such as tools that capture trial outcomes.
In short, Abernethy plans to turn Verily into a profitable business, one that may eventually spin off from Google entirely.
Pali Bhat spent more than a decade in various leadership roles at Google, including its payments products, and led an engineering team made up of around a thousand people before leaving to join Reddit in October as chief product officer.
“I’ve long admired Reddit and am energized to build on the work the team does to help millions of people around the world,” he said in a statement at the time. “Being part of the Reddit team enables me to bring together my passions for community, creators, and technology platforms.”
In October, Insider reported that Google Cloud’s EMEA division had lost its third high-ranking manager in a matter of months: Sanj Bhayro, the division’s VP of operations in the region.
Bhayro had joined Google Cloud only a year and a half earlier, and is one of three executives in the same unit to have quickly joined the company from Salesforce and then left.
Bhayro now works for customer communications platform Intercom, where he is VP of EMEA sales, working from the company’s Dublin office.
Google Cloud had poached Pip White from Salesforce in June 2020 to run its UK & Ireland office and, for a brief period, it looked like she was set to remain in post.
But her boomerang move back to Salesforce-owned Slack this fall proved it wasn’t meant to be, amid an exodus of top talent at Google Cloud’s EMEA office. Two of White’s former Salesforce and Google Cloud colleagues, Chris Ciauri and Sanj Bhayro, also left within a year and a half of joining.
In a recent interview with Insider, White explained why she likes to ask about people’s passion outside of work during job interviews, and why candidates’ answers tell her a lot about how they’ll perform on the job.
Uri Frank joined Google Cloud in March as a vice president of engineering to lead the development of new cloud computing chips. Frank will be helping the cloud unit build a team in Israel, where other Alphabet technologies like Waze and Call Screen are based.
Prior to Google Cloud, Frank had spent about two decades at Intel, where he led the development of several chip designs.
Chris Phillips joined Google in June to lead its Geo team, which includes Maps and Earth. Previously, this role was split between Liz Reid, who took a new role on Search this year, and Dane Glasgow, who departed for Facebook shortly before Phillips’ arrival.
Google might seem something of a swerve on Phillips’ resume — he previously held chief product officer roles for SiriusXM and music service Pandora.
Phillips leads both product and engineering for Geo and reports directly to Prabhakar Raghavan, who oversees Search, ads, Assistant, and Geo.
Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Alphabet urban innovation arm Sidewalk Labs, announced this month he would be stepping down after learning he likely has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as ALS.
“I want to spend less time achieving things and more time with them, always being present for a change.” Doctoroff wrote in a blog post announcing the news, where he also announced that most of Sidewalk’s projects would be folded into Google proper.
“I leave Sidewalk having complete confidence that our impact will increase exponentially,” he wrote. “While I will dearly miss working with the incomparable Sidewalk Labs team, I couldn’t be more excited to see Google accelerate the development of our products and technology to achieve their sustainability mission — not a moment too soon for the world.”
Giusy Buonfantino joined Google Cloud in January as a vice president working on solutions for the consumer packaged goods and fast-moving consumer goods industries. She oversees product, partner, and sales strategies to help customers in that sector, like Procter & Gamble.
Customers in this industry may use cloud-powered AI to analyze data and make smarter decisions in manufacturing, supply chain, and more. Hiring Buonfantino is a sign of Google Cloud’s strategy in targeting specific industries.
Buonfantino previously held executive roles at personal care company Kimberly-Clark and beauty company Amway, and previously spent over 18 years at Johnson & Johnson where she headed beauty care products..
Gerrit Kazmaier joined Google Cloud this April to lead its big data products, including databases, data analytics, and Looker, which Google Cloud acquired for $2.4 billion last year.
Prior to Google Cloud, Kazmaier had worked for SAP for about ten years, where he was most recently an executive vice president. Google Cloud has hired several executives, including Cloud sales president Robert Enslin, from SAP in the past three years.
Bhanumurthy Ballapuram joined Google Cloud in August as the vice president of customer experience for Japan and the Asia Pacific region.
Ballapuram, who is based in India, previously spent nearly three decades at the IT and consulting company Wipro, where he was most recently president and COO.
Google hired Monique Picou, a former Walmart executive, as its VP of product, technology strategy, and server operations in February. The trade publication Data Center Knowledge described her new role as involving “expanding server-floor operations and data center materials.”
Picou was previously a senior vice president and chief strategy and supply chain officer at Walmart after spending 25 years at personal care giant Procter & Gamble.
Erin Clift, the chief marketing officer at Google-owned navigation app Waze, was thought to be in line for the CEO role after longtime leader Noam Bardin stepped down at the start of this year.
But sources told Insider she missed out on the top job because she wasn’t close enough to other teams within Waze, including its product and engineering teams. She left the company in July.
Clift confirmed to Insider that she had left the company, but insisted she had not put herself forward for the CEO position, declining to comment further.
Samy Bengio, often credited as one of the cofounders of Google Brain, the tech giant’s dedicated AI devision, announced he was stepping down earlier this year, in the wake of ethicist Timnit Gebru’s ousting and the firing of her co-lead, Margaret Mitchell.
Bengio had worked closely with both Gebru and Mitchell, and both had reported to Bengio before they left the company. Bengio’s department was subsequently reorganized to place Marian Croak, the VP who took over management of Google’s AI teams amid the turmoil, in charge.
“While I am looking forward to my next challenge, there’s no doubt that leaving this wonderful team is really difficult,” Bengio wrote in his email to colleagues, which did not directly reference the recent events with Gebru and Mitchell.
Amr Awadallah, vice president of developer relations at Google Cloud, left the company in July, Insider first reported. His departure came about a month after he published a LinkedIn post and YouTube video about his “story of redemption” from the “hatred” he felt for Jewish people earlier in his life. The post didn’t sit right with some Googlers, and one called the post “insensitive and problematic” on an internal forum.
Prior to Google Cloud, Awadallah worked at Cloudera, where he was cofounder and CTO.
Catherine Lacavera worked at Google for more than 16 years, and most recently served as its vice president of legal. She departed the company in October to become the chief legal officer of the health technology company Color Genomics, which provides COVID-19 and genetic testing.
During Lacavera’s time at Google, she successfully defended more than 1,000 patent claims, including multi-billion dollar actions brought by Viacom, Microsoft, Apple and Oracle. She worked with Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility and $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest. She also led the company in campaigning to protect the spouses and dependents of H-1B visa workers.
The 15 Executives Who Left Google in 2021 — and 11 Who Joined – Business Insider
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