Ramaswamy and Wojcicki previously shared responsibility for both the advertising and commerce businesses at Google. They had the same title – SVP, ads and commerce – and many of the same values. For instance, both are strongly focused on ad quality and the user experience.
The appointment of Ramaswamy's lieutenants, Silver and Lipkovitz, coincided with the exit of Heilig, Mohan's engineering counterpart and for many years the senior authority among Google's technical team working on display products. The two men essentially split Heilig's job.
Why did Heilig leave? Sources describe him as a very technical talent who "didn't get along" with Ramaswamy, who is himself seen as a "genius" at systems thinking. (Wojcicki, by contrast, seems to have given Heilig a wider berth and more room to breathe.) For Heilig, the additional oversight may have felt like a demotion.
Whatever the specific cause of friction, Heilig left the display ads group in May – around when Lipkovitz was brought in. He now works on Google's cloud platform.
Successful Internet companies evolve quickly, and Google may have set the bar in this regard. No surprise then that some recent developments in its ad business have little to do with Ramaswamy's arrival. For instance, a yearslong effort to integrate some overlapping products – including merging DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) and DoubleClick Ad Exchange (AdX) – has been affirmed by Sridhar and will go forward as planned.
Since it began piecing together its display ad platform around 2007, Google has assembled an astonishing array of products – many overlapping. To name a few: AdWords, DoubleClick For Advertisers, DoubleClick Campaign Manager, DFP, AdX, Google Display Network, AdSense, Admob, DoubleClick Bid Manager (formerly Invite Media) and Wildfire (social media marketing).
Outside observers say they see a different Google shining through in other ways. For example, many in the industry were surprised by Google's decision to prevent standalone data-management platforms from firing tracking pixels on the Google Display Network unless they also owned a demand-side platform to bid on the impression.
One question swirling through these changes is whether Mohan will stick around at Google. He's been in charge of Google's display ambitions for going on a decade, and has privately told colleagues that he has no plans to leave.
However Mohan has shown he is open to outside offers. As Michael Arrington described in a TechCrunch post, Google successfully blocked Twitter's 2011 attempt to poach Mohan by countering with $100 million in stock, a sweet retention bonus that "could be called an IQ test," as Arrington put it. Google pays engineering and product management very well.
And yet, said one former colleague, "It's possible he may ask himself, how much money does one person actually need?"
These days Mohan spends significant time focused on YouTube's ad products, so he's still in close contact with his old boss. The opportunity to invent the future of digital video advertising would seem to be keeping him engaged.
And Mohan gets on well with Ramaswamy too. Ramaswamy's technical knowledge makes him a good thinking partner to Mohan, fueling product innovation and go-to-market strategy.
Mohan, the face of Google display advertising, seems willing to stay put for now.