70+20+10 Equals Google

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In a conversation with John Battelle, Google CEO Eric Schmidt discussed the percentages of time Googlers work on aspects of the business…but he won’t discuss Microsoft.

70+20+10 Equals Google
Google Employees Do The Math

Everyone knows how Eric Schmidt came into Google to help shepherd the company from being a privately-held search engine innovator through its wildly successful IPO and now to its dominance as a search advertising company.

Now he’s shed a little more light on the time Google employees spend on projects that are core to the business as well as ideas for projects that are completely different. He discussed the 70/20/10 formula in his Business 2.0 interview with Battelle:

Here’s how it works for management: We spend 70 percent of our time on core search and ads. We spend 20 percent on adjacent businesses, ones related to the core businesses in some interesting way. Examples of that would be Google News, Google Earth, and Google Local. And then 10 percent of our time should be on things that are truly new. An example there would be the Wi-Fi initiative — which I haven’t kept up with myself. God knows what they’ve done in the last week.

That formula even had a physical manifestation for a while, as Schmidt noted:

For a while we put the projects in different rooms. That way, if we were in one room too long, we knew we were not spending our time correctly. It was sort of a stupid device, but it worked quite well. Now we have people who actually manage this, so I know how I spend my time, and I do spend it 70/20/10.

Do those percentages reach all the way to the very top of the company, the space occupied by the company’s founders?

Larry and Sergey are now operating under 70/20/10 too. They might spend their 70 percent time differently. Sergey, for example, has been looking at new ways of doing search quality, a new math around that. Larry has been pushing for some very new ad models. That would count in the 70 percent.

While Bill Gates may be talking a lot about Google, Schmidt isn’t returning the favor, as this exchange denoted:

Battelle: I recently asked MSN’s Yusuf Mehdi what he made of Google. His answer: “Well, we’re the underdog now.”

Schmidt: I would prefer not to respond to Microsoft’s statements, of any kind. He’s welcome to say whatever he’d like. I’m happy to talk about Google.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

70+20+10 Equals Google
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