The Information reported today that Google VP of Core Search Ben Gomes will be stepping up to lead all of search as vice president. This move is the result of SVP of Engineering John Giannandrea, who has been overseeing both the search and AI units, stepping down. The single role previously held by Giannandrea is being divided between Gomes, who will oversee search, and Google Senior Fellow Jeff Dean, who is currently overseeing the Google Brain team. Dean will now oversee both Google Brain and the AI unit at Google. Both Dean and Gomes are long-time veterans at Google (19 years and 18 years, respectively).
- Co-designed five successive generations of Google’s crawling indexing and query retrieval systems.
- Co-designed the initial version of Google’s advertising serving system.
- Co-designed and implemented MapReduce.
- Co-designed and implemented BigTable.
- … and Google Translate, Google AdSense for Content, Google News, Spanner and more.
Ben Gomes has been an integral part of the Google Search team for 18 years. There’s not a part of the core search algorithm that he has not been intimately involved with. He’s been a key engineer on the team, as well as being described (by former Googler Marissa Mayer) as both their “search czar” and “diplomat” — as he easily communicates search development across the teams at the ‘plex and externally. Overseeing all of search will be a natural fit for him and the teams he’ll lead.
Giannandrea has been in the dual role for the past two years, taking over the search role when Amit Singhal stepped down. Giannandrea joined Google in 2010 as part of its acquisition of his company’s Metaweb technologies, which contributed to the development of Google’s Knowledge Graph. Giannandrea’s background in machine learning and AI, combined with Google’s emphasis on AI-first search, made him a natural fit for the role at the time. According to The Information report, he’ll continue at Google. His background emphasized research, and I’d speculate his involvement in the Natural Language Understanding team will grow as voice-first and AI-first paths merge ever more closely at the search giant.
We reached out to Google for comment, and while confirming these changes, a representative also confirmed that no additional movements within the core search team are planned at this time.