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April 24, 2008

A Radio Interview with Marissa Mayer

(Hopefully fair-use thumbnail of a photo)
from Marissa Mayer's public album

KQED FM hosted one of the most interesting interviews with Marissa Mayer, Vice President for Search Products & User Experience at Google. Some tidbits:

- because of the limited environments where you are able to search and because of the small number of options to express your searches, you search less often than you should. For example, you can't find web pages that describe an idea and you can't speak to a search engine.

- the goal for Google Street View is to find what something looks like (e.g.: the door to a museum).

- Google could make $80-200 million/year by adding ads to Image Search, but people would use the product less.

- Google shows fewer ads to make them more relevant and more meaningful to users.

- Google builds products for a broad audience of users, so the products have to be simple and easy to use.

- the ad targeting in Gmail works by finding the most relevant words from a message and then listing ads that are related to those words.

- Larry Page and Sergey Brin read some studies that showed it's good to have around 25% of the technical workforce women to get a balanced environment and managed to maintain this proportion inside Google.

- Google does a small amount of outsourcing for testing and user interface design.

- the median age for Google's employees generally follows the average between Larry's age and Sergey's age.

- 80% of the calls to GOOG-411 return satisfactory results.

- there are more than a million of books in Google Book Search and the average number of pages for a book is 300, so Book Search has a similar index with Google's index from 2000.

- no plans for building a desktop operating systems.

- the public version of Google Health will be launched shortly.

The interview can be downloaded as an MP3 (24 MB) or listened using the player below (52 minutes):

3 comments:

  1. sure - no desktop operating system. but that doesn't mean that 20 other manufacturers can't fund and build it - Open Handset Alliance.

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  2. > Google could make $80-200 million/year by adding ads to Image
    > Search, but people would use the product less.

    Hmm. Some ads might not be that bad, if they're not obtrusive. I guess the question is: in which cases do people performing an image search want to buy something? Perhaps this is less the case than with web search. And ads are mostly aimed at selling stuff.

    There's also still no ads in Google News. Or Google Docs. I wouldn't be surprised if they add them in the long run though.

    What's the $80-200 million number made up of anyway? Did it already factor in the lowered amount of searches due to the ad? And won't statements like these give shareholders basis to sue Google for not making as much revenues as possible?

    > Larry Page and Sergey Brin read some studies that showed it's good
    > to have around 25% of the technical workforce women to get a balanced
    > environment and managed to maintain this proportion inside Google.

    So if you have a team of 50% women you need to fire some women? ;)
    Is it allowed to select employees based on gender anyway in the US? Or else how would one want to manage that balance in cases where it might not come out natural (e.g. too many women/ too many men in comparison to that ratio).

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  3. I would like to have ads in the image search, but not as image-ads, but as inline text-ads, like the ones, that one can put after each or each x-blogpost. A lot of traffic I get via the image search to my (art-) blogs. Overall I like the ads, often I ignore them (see and forgot), but still quite often I found useful content behind the ad. But I almost never click on ads in GMail.

    ReplyDelete