Google: The world’s search engine

I spent last week investigating Apple for our project Who’s Behind the Bay Area’s Top Ten Companies?, which we’ve posted as a pitch on

Good thing I researched Apple — number eight on our list of the Bay Area’s top 10 companies — because I’ve spent this week probing Google and there are a myriad of connections between the two. It’s well documented how quickly and easily Silicon Valley employees move between competing companies, but there are a high number of people moving between Google and Apple, Microsoft, Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Facebook. There are also a large amount of Google employees who have started out as consultants at McKinsey & Company. Check out Google’s interlocks page for more specifics, but here’s some of what I uncovered.

College drop-outs in a garage apartment
Google, number 10 on our list, has grown rapidly since its inception in 1998. Like Apple, its humble beginnings are now legend. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, then PhD students in the computer science department at Stanford University, rented a garage apartment from Susan Wojcicki in Menlo Park, Calif. That’s where the two developed Google and promptly dropped out of their program at Stanford.

Brin and Page have repaid their landlord handsomely. The duo gave Wojcicki, then working at Intel, a job at newly branded Google as VP of Product Development where she has worked ever since. But the generosity didn’t stop there. Google would eventually employ her husband, Dennis Troper, as an operations executive, and her mother, Esther Wojcicki, as an educational consultant. Brin also went on to marry Wojcicki’s sister. Talk about keeping it in the family.

Apple to Google exodus
There are several ex-Apple employees now working in key executive positions at Google:

  • Jonathan Rosenberg: current Senior VP of Product Management at Google, who held a similar position at Apple and also worked in software at Palm
  • Dave Girouard: Google’s President of Enterprise, who worked as a product manager for Apple
  • Megan Smith: she’s worked as Google’s VP of New Business Development and manager of since 2003, but previously worked at Apple Japan
  • Mark Fuchs: VP of Finance and Chief Accountant for Google, who worked in finance positions at Apple and the SEC
  • Kai-Fu Lee: was VP of Google China until last month, but also helped build Asian bases as a VP for both Apple and Microsoft

Spearheading the social media revolution
In turn, there are also several former Google employees now in strategic posts at Facebook. Both Sheryl Sandberg and Elliott Schrage left their jobs at Google in 2008 for the same positions at Facebook: Chief Operating Officer and VP of Communications, respectively. Sandberg has also been a director at Starbucks since 1999, which does a heavy advertising business with both Google and Facebook. Additionally, Ethan Beard worked as Google’s Director of Social Media until 2008 when he was naturally snapped up by Facebook.

From its two-man-and-a-landlord beginnings, Google has grown to over 20,000 employees worldwide. There are so many connections between its employees, both current and former, and other Silicon Valley tech companies.  If this research interests you or if you want to see more of it, please consider donating to help us at