Douglas Merrill's exit is fueling online discussion among Google watchers about the Google brain drain that has been the buzz of the blogosphere for the past year or so.

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

April 2, 2008

2 Min Read

Google's de facto CIO, engineering VP Douglas Merrill, resigned from Google this week to become the president of digital business for EMI Music.

Merrill's departure marks the second high-profile departure of a Google executive in the past month. In March, Sheryl Sandberg left her position as VP of global online sales and operations at Google to become the new chief operating officer of Facebook.

In a statement, Guy Hands, CEO of Terra Firma and chairman of EMI Group, praised Merrill's business intellect and his deep engineering background. "His experience, talents, and his ability to drive innovation will be enormously valuable to EMI and to its artists," said Hands.

Merrill in a statement said, "I have two passions. One is creating platforms and tools that make it easier for consumers to achieve their goals. The other is music. This exciting new role at EMI is a unique opportunity for me to be able to put those two passions to work together and help deliver EMI's objective of providing the best services in the world to consumers and musicians."

Merrill joined Google in 2003, having worked previously as a senior VP at Charles Schwab. He also worked at Price Waterhouse and Rand Corp. In part due to his background in finance and security, Merrill helped execute Google's IPO in 2004 and oversaw the launch of Google Checkout in 2006.

Merrill's departure is fueling online discussion among Google watchers about the Google brain drain that has been the buzz of the blogosphere for the past year or so.

In 2004 and 2005, tech companies cringed at the thought that Google would lure their top talent away, as Google did with Kai Fu Lee and Mark Lucovsky, both formerly with Microsoft.

What a difference a few years and the vesting of stock options make. In 2007 and 2008, things began to change, and a trickle of noted Google employees began to leave.

But employee retention issues are typical as organizations make the transition from upstart to established player. And Google may well benefit from the departure of a few of its entrepreneurial mavericks if they're replaced by people committed to strengthening the company's existing business and broaden its revenue stream beyond advertising.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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