Business & Finance
News
8/25/2006
01:15 PM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Profile: Google Technologist Knows Problem Solving Firsthand

Engineering VP overcame his own disabilities in determining which challenges matter most.

I'm a technology management type. I have pointy hair. No, I am not the pointy-haired boss." That's how Douglas Merrill describes himself in his blog, The Other End of Sunset. Google's VP of engineering, in keeping with the company culture, lives out loud.

Douglas Merrill, VP of engineering, Google

Douglas Merrill, VP of engineering, Google
Merrill, 36, graduated from the University of Tulsa, majoring in social and political organization, then earned a master's and a doctorate from Princeton in psychology. He worked for the Rand Corp. as an information scientist; taught information security in Southeast Asia; joined Price Waterhouse, where he became leader of the West Coast security practice; then moved to Charles Schwab as senior VP of information security. In 2003, he was hired by Google.

Google doesn't have a CIO. Merrill, with responsibility for Google's internal IT systems, comes closest. He overcame several challenges to get on that track. He was deaf from 3 years old till 6, the result of an infection in his auditory nerve. He sometimes apologizes for his accent, vaguely Southern and Canadian, a consequence of being raised in Arkansas, yet having a Canadian voice coach. He's also dyslexic; reading and math remain difficult.

Merrill's hacking roots go back to Arkansas, where he disabled an online bulletin board used by white supremacists. "One of the things I found that really interested me is it turns out that it's not actually all that hard to crash those bulletin boards and make them unavailable," he says.

An interest in how technology works and how people use it followed. Merrill's premise: There are no lasting technical solutions to social problems, and most interesting problems are social problems. "The particular tools and systems we give [people] yield certain kinds of problems," he says. Merrill sees it as his job to help solve them.

Return to the story:
Google Revealed: The IT Strategy That Makes It Work

Continue to the sidebars:
Google's Brew Of Open Source And Custom Code
and Google Goes Its Own Way In The Data Center

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The Business of Going Digital
The Business of Going Digital
Digital business isn't about changing code; it's about changing what legacy sales, distribution, customer service, and product groups do in the new digital age. It's about bringing big data analytics, mobile, social, marketing automation, cloud computing, and the app economy together to launch new products and services. We're seeing new titles in this digital revolution, new responsibilities, new business models, and major shifts in technology spending.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest September 18, 2014
Enterprise social network success starts and ends with integration. Here's how to finally make collaboration click.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.