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New role for Google Maps-Commerce chief

Google's mapping and commerce chief is stepping down in the latest senior management reshuffle after Android architect Andy Rubin moved on to a still-undefined role at the company on Wednesday.

Google will split its Maps/Geo and Commerce group into two separate units. Senior VP Jeff Huber, who has led the group since 2011, is moving to Google X, the company's experimental projects group known for developing self-driving cars and the Google Glass wearable computer.

Huber, who has worked on some of Google's "most complicated issues like ads, apps, payments and geo," is "eager to work in a more start-up-like environment," the company said in a statement on Thursday.

The Maps/Geo group will be folded into Google's search division, formally called Knowledge, and led by senior VP Alan Eustace, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Google's Commerce group, which among other things is responsible for the company's online payment product Google Wallet, will become part of the Advertising group headed by senior VP Susan Wojcicki, said the person, who is not authorised to speak to the media and declined to be named.

Google, the world's top Web search engine, generated 95% of its revenue last year from ads.

The changes represent the most significant management reorganisation since Google co-founder Larry Page became chief executive in April 2011 and streamlined the company's key products into several groups that report directly to him.

With the new changes, five main product groups instead of the previous seven will report to Page.

Page's inner circle of advisers, known internally as the L-Team, is also changing with the addition of engineering senior VP Sridhar Ramaswmamy, according to people familiar with the matter. It was not immediately clear if Huber or Rubin were leaving the influential L-Team, which is comprised of Google's top product executives as well as finance and legal executives and is responsible for plotting Google's strategic priorities.

Shares of Google have risen 16% this year, as investors have gained confidence that the company is well-positioned for an industry-wide transition in which consumers increasingly use mobile phones, instead of personal computers, to access the Web.

On Wednesday, Google said Sundar Pichai would take over its fast-growing Android mobile software business, replacing Rubin, who is moving to a new, yet-to-be-defined role at the company.

Google did not say what Huber's role or title would be within Google X, which is led by Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

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