The latest big brain to leave Google is Dan Reicher, the company's director of climate change and energy initiatives for the past four years. No matter how hard it tries, Google just isn't as lithe and entrepreneurial as it was in its early days. It's hard to keep the startup atmosphere in a company of 23,000 people (up from 5,000 five years ago). Even the company's "20 percent time" for employees to work on their own projects hasn't been enough to retain top talent like Reicher.
Reicher made an impressive impact at Google--he helped create the company's RE>C goal (making renewable energy cheaper than coal), oversaw the development of grid-connected Ford Escape and Toyota Prius hybrids, and developed the proposal that led Google to invest in an underwater transmission grid off the Atlantic Coast of the U.S.
Now the former Googler is heading to Stanford, where he will oversee the new interdisciplinary Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance as executive director. Reicher will also serve as a professor at the Law School and lecturer at the Graduate School of Business.
No word on who will take over at Google, but it's safe to say that the replacement will have many of the same grand alternative energy ambitions as Reicher.