I had a chance to conduct a one-on-one interview last year with Marissa Mayer, Vice President, Search Products & User Experience at Google. In honor of Google’s 10th birthday, and with Apple’s scheduled iPod announcements today, here’s what Marissa had to say about Apple and Steve Jobs.
DAVID ECKOFF: I understand you admire Steve Jobs and Apple, how do you study and model Apple?
MARISSA MAYER: One of the things I do on the side of the Search Products business, is I run an associates program. I hire people right out of school with computer science degrees and teach them how to be good product mangers in the Google sense. Part of being a good product manager is being able to think and talk about and launch your products.
We do a series of field trips during the year and one of the field trips is to Steve Jobs’ Macworld keynote in January where he unveils a lot of the products for that half of the year.
And it’s really interesting, because it’s almost like a football coach watching the opposing team and trying to break it down into X’s and O’s. On the bus back from San Francisco, we’ll break down, how did he talk about that, what worked, what was clever about it. A lot of insights can come out of that in terms of what can help build excitement about a product, what can build understanding.
There’s a lot of interesting insights the team has had into the way he talks about products and how he makes really complicated principles easily understandable.
DAVID ECKOFF: Are there any other companies you study who you think do a great job with innovation?
MARISSA MAYER: I think 3M is a great company where it is clear they do a lot to incent new innovation and ideas. We look a lot at start ups. How people are incented. How they guarantee a fast innovation cycle.
DAVID ECKOFF is President of Revolutionary Ventures, a consulting company that helps businesses create new growth through innovation. Previously, he was Vice President, New Product Development & Innovation at Turner Broadcasting (CNN, TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network); Senior Director at RealNetworks; and Senior Vice President at Rivals.com. He is currently developing a new online business dedicated to aggregating the explosion of news and discussion on the web and filtering/organizing that content by niche topics of interest to passionate fans.