Google is in the midst of a major shift. Eric Schmidt, who has acted as CEO since 2001, is handing the reigns back over to Larry Page, one of the original company founders. Page wasted no time in changing the structure of the company dramatically, splitting Google into six distinct divisions which will each run in a primarily autonomous manner. Additionally, Page is pushing hard to get the company to work together on the social front – even going so far as tying the 2011 bonus for all Googlers to the company’s performance in social.
The exact message given to Google staff was that their bonus will depend, in part, on “how well we [Google] perform our strategy to integrate relationships, sharing, and identity across our product.” The metrics that will track Google’s social performance, and how much will rely on any given social product released in 2011 (such as the long-rumored Google social network that will, allegedly, compete directly with Facebook), is uncertain. However, the message to Googlers is very clear on other parameters: If Google’s social performs well, their bonus may be up to 25 percent larger. If Google’s social performs poorly, bonuses may be cut by up to 25 percent.
This represents just one of many recent efforts to stimulate innovation, commitment, and effort on the social front. The company has even admitted that they haven’t yet done social correctly, despite a number of efforts. Their largest social effort has been Google Buzz, a micro-blogging element added to Gmail that saw great privacy concerns and almost no success. Recent development on other Google products, however, does demonstrate that the company is ready to pounce in the near future. These “warning signs” include the expanded Google profile, social connections on Latitude and Hotpot, and the “Google +1” button released earlier in April.