Google's Marissa Mayer to Take Over Geo and Local Services

The folks in Mountain View assign their "star general" to the location game.

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Location, location, location. It's always been important in the analog world. Now, with the advent of mobile devices that can pinpoint your location and serve up information—and, more importantly, ads—in real time, based on where you are, location is becoming the hotness in the digital world. Google today signaled that it is getting serious about the idea.

The search giant is moving one of what a source calls its "star generals," Marissa Mayer, into a new role focusing on "geo-local" services (the specifics of which will presumably be revealed in the near future). Google was tight-lipped about the move, saying only through a spokesperson: "Marissa is moving over to an exciting new role covering geo-local, which is crucial to our users and the future of Google. Marissa has made an amazing contribution on search over the last decade, and we're excited about her input in this new area in the decade ahead."

But a person familiar with the move tells Fast Company that geo-local services were one of the areas under Mayer's purview as VP of Search Products and User Experience. The company has decided to carve out the location-based business lines and has asked Mayer to focus on them exclusively.

Also signifying the magnitude of the shift, Mayer has been added to the company's Operating Committee, which oversees all major decisions, like whether to continue doing business in China or whether to acquire companies like YouTube. "It would be one thing [for the company] to say that geo and local are very important," the person familiar with the move said. But "they're also saying it should have a seat at the table."

Udi Manber, the engineering lead who until now has shared responsibility with Mayer for search products and user experience, is now taking over sole leadership of that area. In an indicator of the relative importance with which Google now views geo-local services, its historical stalwart, Manber was not promoted to the Operating Committee.

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