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Google exec announces departure as Page takes reins

Once and future CEO 'demands long-term commitment'

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Larry Page took over as Google chief executive on Monday, and his first day on the job saw another significant change to the Google management team. The company's head of product management, Jonathan Rosenberg, announced he will be leaving the company.

Speaking with The San Jose Mercury News, Rosenberg said he would step down "in the coming months". According to the paper, Larry Page asked the entire executive team to make a long-term commitment to remaining with the company, and Rosenberg told the paper this was not something he could do, saying he had planned to step down when his daughter goes to college in 2013.

He said he would take some time off beginning in the summer and then return to Google in a consulting role. He also plans to write a book with outgoing CEO Eric Schmidt about "the values, rules and creation of Google's management culture".

Rosenberg joined Google in 2002, soon after the arrival of Schmidt. And it seems that like Schmidt, the hire was intended to add some sort of adult supervision to the company. Rosenberg is 49, a decade older than the likes of Larry Page and co-founder Sergey Brin, and prior to joining Google, he worked at Apple and the now defunct cable internet broadband outfit Excite@Home.

"We tried to hire Jonathan multiple times because he was the only person we could imagine doing the job," Page said in a canned statement give to The Mercury News. "It's lucky we were so persistent because he's built an amazing team – hiring great people, who've created amazing products that have benefited over a billion users around the world."

Page has said that in returning to the CEO he relinquished to Schmidt in 2001, he wants to run Google more like a startup. But Rosenberg told The Mercury News that this is not why he is leaving. "We're obviously going through a transition here; Larry is stepping into the role of CEO. And I think it was important to him that he establish and build around an executive team that intended to be here for many, many years," he said.

Rosenberg is one of just nine employees on the Google executive team, if you include Eric Schmidt. According to Google's website, he oversees the "teams that manage Google’s innovative product portfolio and go-to-market strategies. In this role, Jonathan oversees the design, creation and improvement of all of Google’s products, from consumer offerings to publisher and business services. He directs the teams with a special focus on delivering exceptional user experience, continuous innovation, and highly relevant, accountable, and untraditional marketing."

According to The Mercury News, Rosenberg served as mentor to current big name Google execs such as YouTube chief Salar Kamangar, head of advertising Susan Wojcicki, and Marissa Mayer, who oversaw search for many years and now runs Google's geolocation and local services.

In December 2009, it was Rosenberg who penned Google's famous blog post about its ostensible commitment to "openness." And earlier that year, when Google's search ad coverage was steadily shrinking, it was Rosenberg who said this was part of Google's effort to produce the perfect ad. "Larry [Page] says we'd be better off showing just one ad [per page] - the perfect ad," Rosenberg told reporters and analysts on the company's quarterly earnings call, indicating that coverage would shrink even further.

But then Sergey Brin spoke up to contradict him. "There is some evidence that we've been a little bit more aggressive in decreasing coverage than we ought to have been," was the word from Brin. "We've been reexamining some of that." As the economy went into tailspin, Google began expanding its coverage, showing more ads per page, and this trend continued throughout the worldwide recession.

Soon thereafter, Page and Brin stopped appearing on the company's earning calls, and Rosenberg filled much of the breach. He has been a key fixture on the calls in recent months. ®

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