Brown, who joined Google from McKinsey in 2003, has remained as under the radar as Mayer floated above it. Highly analytical and introverted, Brown has spent the bulk of her Google career overseeing Business Operations—advising senior management on business strategy, organizational structure and bureaucracy-busting efforts as the company expanded from 1,000 to over 30,000 employees during her tenure.
A Rhodes scholar with a PhD in engineering, Brown, 46, fit into Google's brainiac culture but long ago left the fast track to a top role in the company. Five years ago, while in charge of Business Operations, she gave up oversight of People Operations—HR-plus—to Laszlo Bock, another SVP. Brown meanwhile reduced her work schedule to 70% of normal Google hours, aiming to have time for outside board work.
In fact, many Google watchers say that Brown "retired" years ago. But she got one thing that she wanted: a plum board seat at PepsiCo (PEP) in 2009. As Brown has helped Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi navigate her global growth challenges, her influence inside Google has further waned. When co-founder Larry Page succeeded Eric Schmidt as chief executive early last year, Brown (like Mayer) lost her place in the CEO's inner circle and got sidelined. Page asked Brown to head Google.org, the company's philanthropy arm. She was game. "I felt I had made my mark," Brown says, "and I was beginning to feel the itch about social impact."
So for the past two years, Brown has been working on this question: How best to use technology to tackle social problems around the world? She has focused Google.org on three areas: expanding Internet access, developing cleaner energy, and strengthening citizen engagement. On the latter challenge, Google.org provided the first live election results map in Mexico's history.
Friday morning at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, Brown convened her Google.org team and told them that she's ready to go. Unlike Mayer, she doesn't have a high-profile CEO job lined up. She's simply planning to set up shop to advise "social entrepreneurs and regular entrepreneurs on all the challenges of growth," she says.
"It'll be fun to take the lessons I learned at Google," Brown adds. And what might they be? She ticks off three:
1. "People are the most important thing."
2. "Integrity is as important as brilliance."
3. "You don't have to have the highest IQ or EQ--but some combination--to add value to geeks and brainiacs."
While Google has come under scrutiny lately for its dearth of senior woman, the most influential female executive shows no sign of going anywhere. Susan Wojcicki has been at Google ever since she rented her Silicon Valley garage to two guys named Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were dreaming up a company to organize the web. A key builder of Google's ad platforms and now SVP of Product Management and Engineering, Wojcicki ranks No.18 on Fortune's Most Powerful Women list.
Asked if Google has a problem retaining senior women, Brown replies, "The sector has a problem." Google, she says, has made huge efforts to find and recruit female tech talent, particularly computer scientists.
After having two women bosses—Brown and Megan Smith before her—Google.org now gets a guy in charge: Mathew Stepka, who has been VP of Business Operations at Google for five years. "The organization will survive and thrive," vows Brown, who has another important item on her post-Google agenda. She's engaged to be married.
So, Facebook (FB) knows how to grow. On Tuesday, the company that everyone loved to discount reported better-than-expected profits and a 32% increase in third-quarter revenue to nearly $1.3 billion. The stock is popping.
Substantial credit goes to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's No. 2, who has learned a thing or two about scaling businesses. When Sandberg joined her previous employer Google (GOOG) in 2001, that MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 24, 2012 10:59 AM ET
Meet her impressive new hires.
FORTUNE -- More than just importing Google (GOOG) culture -- free food! free smartphones! -- to Yahoo (YHOO), CEO Marissa Mayer is bringing in Google talent too. On Monday, which was Mayer's first day back since delivering a baby boy September 30, Yahoo announced the appointment of Henrique de Castro as COO. De Castro is one of several recruits whom Mayer used to work with at MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 16, 2012 12:28 PM ET
Mayer - No. 3 on the 40 Under 40 - is changing the culture and welcoming new faces to the troubled web company. But this new chief (and new mom) has miles to go before she sleeps.
FORTUNE -- On a Friday morning in late August, six weeks into her new job as CEO of Yahoo (YHOO), Marissa Mayer was brainstorming about how to make the company innovative again. She became MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 11, 2012 8:18 AM ET
FORTUNE -- One of this year's Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs multitasks in Hollywood. She's a movie star.
Another 2012 MPW Entrepreneur just sold her company to Google (GOOG) for a reported $350 million.
Another winner, nominated by Facebook (FB) COO Sheryl Sandberg, sold her company to LinkedIn (LNKD) for $119 million this year.
These three startup queens are Jessica Alba of The Honest Co., Victoria Ransom of Wildfire Interactive, and Rashmi Sinha MOREPatricia Sellers - Aug 31, 2012 9:00 AM ET
Real power is personal power—what you do beyond your official job description.
As I've come to know the leaders who make up Fortune's Most Powerful Women community, I've embraced this kind of power. It makes work more than a job.
CEOs like Ursula Burns of Xerox (XRX), Tory Burch, Ellen Kullman of DuPont (DD), Marissa Mayer of Yahoo (YHOO), and Pat Woertz of ADM (ADM) are those sorts of leaders who go beyond the call, stretching MOREPatricia Sellers - Aug 9, 2012 1:33 PM ET
One day in late June, before anyone knew that Marissa Mayer would become the new CEO of Yahoo (YHOO), the 37-year-old Google (GOOG) vice president hosted another young tech star at Google's Silicon Valley headquarters.
Mayer's visitor was Meredith Perry, a 22-year-old University of Pennsylvania grad who had cold-emailed Mayer with an investment opportunity: Perry had discovered a way to wirelessly charge cell phones and other electronic devices by transmitting ultrasound MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 30, 2012 10:26 AM ET
FORTUNE -- As we noted yesterday, Yahoo's new chief Marissa Mayer is the youngest CEO in the Fortune 500. Mayer's appointment means that the Fortune 500 now has 20 female CEOs, a new record. Here's the list:
10. Meg Whitman - Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)
19. Ginni Rometty - IBM (IBM)
28. Patricia Woertz - Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)
41. Indra Nooyi - PepsiCo (PEP)
45. Angela Braly - WellPoint (WLP)
50. Irene Rosenfeld - Kraft Foods (KFT)
72. MOREColleen Leahey, Reporter - Jul 18, 2012 9:30 AM ET
New Yahoo (YHOO) chief executive Marissa Mayer is the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company. At 37, she displaces her former boss, 39-year-old Google (GOOG) CEO Larry Page.
Mayer is also the youngest woman ever to make the Fortune Most Powerful Women list. In 2008, at 33, she locked down the No. 50 spot -- and rose to No. 38 on the 2011 MPW list.
Though Mayer has famously described herself (again MOREColleen Leahey, Reporter - Jul 17, 2012 3:14 PM ET
She told Fortune exclusively that her first child is due in October.
FORTUNE --Marissa Mayer, the Google (GOOG) executive who today was named Yahoo's (YHOO) new chief executive, is pregnant.
Mayer told Fortune exclusively that her first child is due October 7. It's a boy!
"He's super-active," Mayer told me in a phone call tonight, three hours after Yahoo announced her appointment. "He moves around a lot. My doctor says that he takes MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 16, 2012 11:13 PM ET
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