Google Snags Adam Lasnik

    May 14, 2006

A couple of months ago, it looks like Google hired Adam Lasnik to be a Webmaster Advocate, or Search Evangelist.

Adam’s new job is being described as a MiniMatt, a second Matt Cutts, giving Google a more honest and open voice both outside and inside the GooglePlex. Outside, he’ll be “hanging out at Webmaster conferences and various geek gatherings, occasional replying to Google-related blog or forum posts, tackling some Webmaster-related e-mails”, and inside, acting as an advocate for those of us on the outside, making sure our concerns are given equal weight inside the Plex.

I think this is beyond great. First off, I’ve been reading Bladam, his blog, for a long while, and they couldn’t have picked a better person. Adam certainly knows his stuff, and has a certain honesty and perspective severly lacking at Google. Also, Google has had a problem the last few months, with public opinion turning against them far faster than it ever did against Microsoft, and while Google isn’t considered completely “evil” yet, it hasn’t done much to fight that feeling. By hiring someone to bridge that gap between Googlers and the rest of the world, Google may not have to fight the same fight Microsoft is dealing with right now.

The fact is, there are some great people at Microsoft, most notably Scoble, who fight every day to get the world to realize how hard that company works. There are some people that are genuinely convinced that if they could get into Bill Gates’ office, they’d find plans for world domination and cheating users, for charging the hell out of customers, making Windows buggy on purpose, and a million other things. The fact is, there are tens of thousands of people at Microsoft doing their damndest to put out good products, and millions of man-hours of work gets dismissed because it comes from the “evil empire”, and the evangelists and product managers at Microsoft fight every day a losing battle against public opinion.

Google has been travelling down that same path. Worse, they’ve been better at it than Microsoft has. I think that at this point, there are many people who don’t want to trust Google anymore. There is a growing number of people who want Google to fail, so that nicer, more honest, more transparent companies, like Yahoo, can succeed. To be honest, if you gave Yahoo everything Google has created, but let Yahoo keep its corporate culture, would you prefer it to the Google we have? Maybe, maybe not, but the idea sounds so tempting.

I want Google to succeed. I don’t want them to crush all comers (I’d like it if Microsoft, Yahoo, Ask and AOL all succeeded as well), but I do feel a certain affinity for Google. I don’t trust Google, and I trust them less every month, but I still like them, and respect them, and I hope that they face they present is as inaccurate as the face Microsoft used to present. I hope I’m wrong about Google, and I think the entire internet hopes so too.

Hiring someone whose job is to be honest with the rest of the world, and to bring some honesty into the closed community that is Google, could not come at a better time, and is a needed shot in the arm for a company that has earned every bit of bad press Google has received. It isn’t enough, but it is a great start. Microsoft hiring Scoble was a great start, and things have improved from there. Lets see Google build from this, and start treating its users with respect.

Here’s part of what Adam has to say, in explaining it on his blog:

My main focus is on broadening communications between Google and Webmasters learning as much as I can from both Matt and the Webmasters he chats with so amiably and then building upon this rapport. Or, more colloquially, as it’s been joked around the office, my uber-challenging goal is to become a “MiniMatt.” Though a colleague did note that a MiniMatt sounds like a scary cross between a convenience store and a diminutive vaccum cleaner. Hmm.

I’ll also be a “Webmaster Advocate” inside the Googleplex. I’ve seen firsthand that tons of folks here already eagerly read and appreciate Google- and search-related comments throughout the Web; I’ll be doing what I can to expedite concerns, bug reports, and other feedback to the right colleagues.

And Matt says on his:

But I can’t always keep up with everything going on outside Google, especially when I’ve got a traditional set of duties in the quality group and webspam. In normal Google tradition, when you have too much work for one CPU to do, you shard it across multiple computers. So I asked my manager if I could shard myself, and my manager said yes. After that, I kept my eyes open for people that I’d seen around the web and respected. I wanted someone with knowledge of search and who was intelligent, nice, patient, and well-spoken. When I saw that Adam was available, I invited him down to lunch, and I liked him a lot.

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Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

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