Prabhakar Raghavan, who has been running the Ads and Commerce teams since 2018, is replaced Ben Gomes as the head of Google Search and Assistant. Ben Gomes is still with Google, he is just moving to Google Education. Ben took over as head of Google Search in 2008 when he replaced John Giannandrea, who replaced Amit Singhal.
It seems some folks in the SEO community find it unusual that someone who lead up Google Ads for a couple years would jump to the organic side. Prabhakar Raghavan is more of a search guy than an ad guy, it is probably a much better fit for him than working on ads. So this might be a good move. Ben Gomes is a legend, but I assume after 20 years at Google, he is ready to step back a bit (my speculation). I am excited to see what this change will bring to Google Search.
This news comes from Search Engine Land where Greg Sterling wrote:
Prabhakar Raghavan, who was running Ads and Commerce (since 2018), will replace Ben Gomes as the new head of Search and Assistant. Search encompasses News, Discover, Podcasts and Google Assistant. Raghavan’s got a long history in search, having worked on it at IBM in 1995, followed by a position at Stanford where he taught the first course in its computer science department on search. He also authored a foundational text on the subject.
Raghavan later founded the research lab at Yahoo after joining the company in 2005. In 2010, he spoke about the concept of the “web of things” vs. the “web of objects” (documents). He said at the time that the overwhelming majority of Yahoo search queries included nouns, indicating people were using search to find information about the real world.
Raghavan joined Google in 2012 and worked initially on Search and mobile location initiatives. He then ran Apps (Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar) and in 2018 took over Ads and Commerce from Sridhar Ramaswamy who went to the venture capital firm Greylock Partners.
Prior to joining Google, Raghavan worked at Yahoo! Labs. Before that, Raghavan worked at IBM Research and later became senior vice president and chief technology officer at enterprise search vendor Verity. Now he is leading up the most important division in Google.
Prabhakar holds a Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a Bachelor of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. His research background spans algorithms, web search and databases. He is the co-author of two widely-used graduate texts on algorithms and on search: Randomized Algorithms and Introduction to Information Retrieval; a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the ACM and IEEE; and was a Consulting Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University. In 2009, he was awarded a Laurea honoris causa from the University of Bologna. He has served as editor in chief for the Journal of the ACM, has published over 100 papers in various fields and holds 20 issued patents, including several on link analysis for web search.
Search Engine Land has more, but it will be interesting to see if anything big changes with search with this new leadership change. Ben Gomes has been with Google for over 20 years.
Danny Sullivan, who has been covering search since before Google, who also now works at Google, wrote this on Twitter:
And welcome back to search for Prabhakar Raghavan, who was involved with it since before Google itself started. History lane time! I remember Clever:https://t.co/dHwg6Z6leu and, of course his time at Yahoo Search, before coming to Google in 2012: https://t.co/uhaEowEJub
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) June 4, 2020
Here is how Prabhakar Raghavan responded:
Thanks Danny and our deep gratitude to Ben Gomes for all he’s done for Google Search. Humbled to be responsible for some awesome products built by amazing colleagues
— prabhakar raghavan (@WittedNote) June 4, 2020
And a bit more on his qualifications for search:
He really has. Graph Structure in the Web paper (co-authored with Andre Broder) has thousands of citations and his book with Manning on IR although a bit of out date is considered a classic core text (over 16k citations). Excited to see the changes ahead.
— Dawn Anderson (@dawnieando) June 5, 2020
Also Jerry Dischler becomes the new head of Ads and Jen Fitzpatrick exits Maps and Geo for central engineering.
Forum discussion at Twitter.