LeWeb: Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer, VP, Product Management, Google and MG Siegler, General Partner, CrunchFund

LeWeb 2011

Now focuses on local and maps. Bringing things together. Checkins are useful for users, bring them together with friends. Interesting ways for us to monetise and for users to save money, so checkin offers, and daily deals etc. Looking to launch this next week with merchants. With G+ and latitude, big push for G+, but are still working on latitude. They have 10m users, huge service, quite popular. Also useful for find, eg finding phone. Also just launched google maps for mobile 6.0, bring in more things out for it.

So with FB buying gowalla, how does she think the space is doing? has it cooled down? NO, she does not think so,t here is a lot of activity, there is a lot of potential. Lots of activities and the successes are coming through, But what makes success. Is this about transaction, is it about owning data, which means you can innovate (she sees Google strong here). Location is useful, sees huge rate is uptake in this. Mobile usage surpassed desktop in June across all platforms. Started last Christmas, over spring saw crossover at weekends, no permanent cross over. Location is here to stay, even if some are falling away

What are they doing with indoor maps? They think indoor spaces are really important, being able to understand spaces and find things, to reduce confusion. So the last release of maps had indoor maps, airports, retailers, etc. Not just the maps, but being able to place you in the space. Using wifi. They did a survey tool to map the wifi

Talking about some of the other companies. How about Groupon, which Google looked at. Is it seen as a long term standalone business? She won’t comment on another company, but deal space is compelling as it helps the users. She thinks things will change a lot, integration, more relevance, that is where we can focus

Now Google+, how does that play into Marissa’s role? Has it changed the company? Her part does get surprised. They have had 40m users in 4months. It is critical for local, local and social feed each other. Social context is a key input. Need to know where friends have been, what they liked. So G+ impacts what location services can offer their users. G+ was not first attempt, they have learnt a lot from Wave and Buzz. We need to not overpromise, make it simple, about privacy and how to communicate it. We field tested, launched it differently to prior attempts. Is design a new area of emphasis? It has always been important, it supports what a user wants to do. Speed is key, but by organising better, a little more focus on design, you help the user work more effectively. Need to make things more findable.

How is Android being used, in the location space. So Google maps have to work all over; but Android is something special, as we can do far more with features. Last year we launched the vector scheme. They can offer 3d buildings, as the maps are smaller. We can cache maps. They like it most as they can do more. They showcase them there.

But what is the biggest fear: Becoming MS or becoming apple? She thinks every company is its own thing, will not pick one of them. It’s about relevance, innovation, tech etc.

Some audience questions

A great product manager hires great people, people who can look at tech and translate it to a great use. She focuses on their outlook, what captures their imagination, who get excited. (they’ve usually done the tech stuff before she sees them). They need to know what delights them. Once working on a product, you need to understand the tech, the limits etc, what works etc. Listening is important. you don’t know all the answers, but have to work with people who do know, bring a teams vision

What are her thoughts on the mad projects? Is it exciting, or distracting? She thinks it is important to explore the ideas, and knows that some of the far flung ideas become core. Orkut started in 10% of wild things, as has Chrome. The car has some of the things that are not too different from search – lots of data, making decisions.

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