Google's former head of web spam Matt Cutts will not be returning to the company this year from the sound of it. He reportedly said on an internet talk show that Google has extended his leave throughout the remainder of the year.
Cutts appeared on Leo Laporte's Twit.tv show, and according to Search Engine Land, he talked about this during the pre-show, which wasn't recorded, so we can't provide the video of what he actually said. However, according to the report, Cutts indicated that he'll be gone through 2015, and that Google is not paying him for his time away, but it is still providing him with health benefits.
Barry Schwartz reports: "Matt added that this gives him a lot of options that he is considering. Including staying with Google at the end of his leave."
This isn't the first time Matt Cutts has appeared on Laporte's show to talk about his potential future with Google. Last fall, he said:
Well, I really have been impressed with how well everyone else on the team is doing, and it’s created a little bit of an opportunity for them to try new things, explore different stuff, you know, approach problems from a different way, and so we’ll have to see how it goes,” Cutts responded. “I loved the part of my job that dealt with keeping an eye on what important news was happening related to Google, but you know, it’s not clear that having me as a lightning rod, you know for, you know unhappy black hat SEOs or something is the best use of anybody’s time compared to working on other things that could be making the world better for Google or in general. So we’ll see how it all works.
Laporte asked him if he has the ability at the company to just do something different if he wants to. Cutts responded:
The interesting thing is that at Google they try to get you and go do different projects, so the product managers, they encourage you to rotate every two or three years, and so it’s relatively rare to find people who have been around forever in a specific area. You’ll find Amit [Singhal] in search, Sridhar [Ramaswamy], you know, some of these people that are really, really senior, you know – higher ranking than me for sure – they do stick around in one area, but a lot of other people jump to different parts of the company to furnish different skills and try different things, which is a pretty good idea, I think.
Jeff Jarvis was on the show too, and asked Cutts what other things interest him. He said:
Oh man, I was computer graphics and actually inertial trackers and accelerometers in grad school. At one point I said, you know, you could use commodity hardware, but as a grad student, you don’t have access to influence anybody’s minds, so why don’t I just go do something else for ten years, and somebody else will come up with all these sensors, and sure enough, you’ve got Kinect, you have the Wii, you know, the iPhone. Now everybody’s got a computer in their pocket that can do 3D sensing as long as write the computer programs well. So there’s all kinds of interesting stuff you could do.
Last month, Google said it had replaced Cutts as the head of web spam, but declined to name who the replacement was. They indicated that the person wouldn't be the public face Cutts has been over the years, though John Mueller has pretty much taken over that part of Matt's duties. In fact, Ignite Visibility President John Lincoln, who contributes to Search Engine Land on occasion, created a comic about Cutts and his leave which reveals that Mueller has actually been Cutts in disguise the whole time!
Where is Matt Cutts? – SEO Comic Book – An infographic by the team at Where is Matt Cutts? – SEO Comic Book
Images via YouTube, Ignite Visibility