Sam Sebastian, director of Classifieds & Local at Google, spoke at a lunch engagement today (August 15, 2006) at his former employer Classified Ventures in Chicago, Illinois. Sam heads a sales team that focuses on developing working relationships with real estate companies and other local advertisers to advocate the use of Google Adwords and other products.
Sam talked about the growth of Google which included his arrival in April. Sam left Classified Ventures in April 2006 after leading Homescape for seven years. Sam expressed his feeling on his new role and Google Local by saying:
"Google Local is the least sexy of the verticals which is perfect for me."
He went on to say that Google currently has 8,000 employees and is hiring 12 new employees a day. So obviously, the company is growing quickly to handle all the different directions that Google is going.
Sam is not a product engineer and is slightly removed from the Googleplex brain-trust (Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Eric Schmidt and Marissa Mayer), so he did not too many "nitty gritty" product details to report. Though, he did express the importance that Google puts on staying on top in search. He explained the 70/20/10 rule that engineers are to follow at Google. The rule has engineers working on search 70% of their time, working on other Google products 20% and working on whatever projects they want 10% of the time (not necessarily Google related). Sam highlighted Google's focus and attention on video and mobile space. He also pointed to the release of a new Google Local product, Google Local Coupons, which was reportedly launched today.
During the Q & A session the audience most notably asked about the Google Base strategy which includes an integrated search widget which could pose as a potential threat to the online classified business. Sam explained how Google is not looking to get into the business of selling the job, car and real estate listings but instead wants to aggregate the listings into its search results. Google would then be able to return more granular listings that send traffic back to the original listing web site. Google is trying to push the adoption of Google Base to build up its result sets in local markets by both educating local businesses and making it free to anyone with a listings feed. Both initiatives could be a threat to the online classified business since most business models in the space are built around the premise that someone pays to place a listing online. However, Sam specifically explained Google is not looking to attack the online classified business but instead help them generate more search traffic via Google search so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.