March 4, 2009

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Putting a bolder face on Google is a New York Times piece about which Reshma Kumar at WebGuild says Marissa Mayer’s Attempt To Put a Bolder Face on Google Falls Flat. One paragraph:

  Google is too busy being drunk on its own cool-aid and telling the same boring stories they’ve been pedaling for the last dozen years over and over again. Maybe some people outside the Valley still buy all this holier than thou start-up slop but it’s become tired. The company is no longer a start-up and these stories are no longer relevant. According to the article, in reviewing resumes she looks at GPAs and SATs and expresses concern over someone getting a C in a course “That’s troubling to me,” Ms. Mayer says. “Good students are good at all things.” However, despite the public facade of hiring only A students, Google has many C and D students in its midst.

I doubt I’d call a positive Times piece “falling flat”; but Reshma’s slam isn’t what caught my eye. It’s this stuff about grade point averages. I’d bet that some of Google’s best employees had bad grades in school. If I worked for Google, I’d be one of them. What I did in school has approximately zero relevance to everything I’ve done since. I’d guess that the same is true for lots of other people who have found the professional world a more productive one than the academic. (Or, in my case, have found the academic world far more friendly after 40 years away from it.)

But that’s not what made me want to write this post. Instead it was to give props to Cindy McCaffrey, Marissa Mayer’s predecessor at Google. Cindy ran corporate marketing at Google from the late 90s through the IPO in 2004. As it says here, Cindy’s approach was low-key. Long on substance and short on flash. More importantly, she was geek-friendly. In the early days, when Google was still getting its act together, I would occasionally send a note to Cindy suggesting that her inside geeks at Google needed to talk with outside geeks who were either having problems, or had some good ideas that Google could use. And good stuff would follow. This wasn’t “corporate communications” of the usual sort, but it was helpful all around. Reading these two stories reminded me of that.

A microquibble

I don’t like candy that doesn’t taste like its color. The green hard candies in the bowls here at #ecomm are peppermint. The orange ones are… grape? The purple ones are… not sure. I shouldn’t eat the damn things anyway, but hey, my resistance is low.