Marissa Mayer looks to location at Google

Ronny Kerr · October 13, 2010 · Short URL:

VP of search products and user experience Marissa Mayer gets promotion and tough job in location


Marissa Mayer, formerly Google’s vice president of search products and user experience, has taken a new leadership position in the search giant’s geolocation services, according to an internal email sent on Tuesday. She will also be joining Google’s operating committee, the executive decision-making group managed by CEO Eric Schmidt.

At 35 years old, Mayer will be the committee’s youngest member.

“Marissa has made an amazing contribution on search over the last decade,” said Google, “and we’re excited about her input in this new area in the decade ahead.”

While Google has cemented its position as top dog in search, in spite of persistent challenges from Microsoft and Yahoo, the market for location-based services remains very much in flux.

Yelp is widely used for its rich collection of user-generated recommendations and reviews of local businesses, Groupon offers local-based deal-of-the-day bonuses, and@marissamayer Foursquare provides a fun platform for social discovery and check-ins. These are just a few examples of new businesses making big moves in the location space.

Knowing Google, we can probably bet the company won’t be satisfied until it can offer users the most comprehensive database of location information, which might mean connecting all these other companies to one central hub. Google’s primary location application known as Latitude, which grew out of Dodgeball (location-based social networking software), currently falls far short of these high expectations. (Incidentally, Dodgeball was created by Dennis Crowley and Alex Rainert, who, after selling the service to Google in 2005, went on to found Foursquare.)

No matter how one looks at it, the location space is definitely going to keep Mayer busy.

Mayer was one of Google’s first employees and its first female engineer, joining the company in 1999. Over the past 11 years, she contributed extensively to Google’s search interface and helped make the site available in over 100 languages. More recently, Mayer played a major role in developing Google Instant, a new feature that instantly displays search results while users type in queries.

Udi Manber, who has served several years as a Google vice president of engineering for Web search, will be taking over Mayer’s position. Manber previously worked for Yahoo! starting in 1998 before moving on to Amazon in 2002 and, finally, Google in 2006. His rich experience in search and algorithms makes him the perfect choice for Mayer’s old spot.

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