There's a shake-up happening at Google.org, the philanthropic arm of search giant Google. The intended mission is to more closely align the interests of the foundation with the core interests of the company itself, according to Forbes.com.
Google.org director Lawrence "Larry" Brilliant, "a charismatic and visionary figure," not renowned for acumen in day-to-day operations, will become Google's Chief Philanthropy Evangelist. Megan Smith, current head of new business development, will now become general manager of Google.org.
According to Forbes, "such shared roles in a private company and a corporate philanthropy, while unusual for most charities, are in keeping with the structure of Google.org. The organization, which is funded with 1% of Google's equity and profits and relies on Google.com engineers for many of its projects, lobbies and makes investments in for-profit companies as well as dispersing traditional philanthropic grants. The idea is to maximize flexibility in such projects as global health, renewable energy development and access to information and capital."
Brilliant has said that by focusing his energy outwards, he hopes to be able to "spend more time motivating policy makers, encouraging public and private partnerships and generally advocating for the changes that we must make as a global society."
As usual, Google stands at the forefront of what it means to build a successful global enterprise. Sure, all that money makes it easy. But the incredible global social, economic and environmental challenges ahead require a fusion of corporate interests with the interests of the planet broadly.
Megan Smith, a former MIT engineer, will now be focusing on operations inside the philanthropy, "particularly the management of engineers producing products like communications tools for disease specialists in the field or Google maps identifying geothermal fields...Most recently, Google.org developed software to monitor home energy consumption."
It's this kind of forward thinking that may save the planet, philanthropy and private enterprise from sinking into an economic hole that could only be found by Google Earth itself.