Google SA still 'head hunting'

Candice Jones
By Candice Jones
Johannesburg, 25 Jun 2010

Google is still on the hunt for a country manager to take over its South African office, hinting that it may appoint a South African to take up the reins.

Two months ago, the company's local head, Stephen Newton, stepped down from the position to begin his own endeavours in the country.

Newton was appointed to the helm of the local arm of Google less than a year ago, and his resignation has come as a surprise. He took over from the former head, Stafford Masie, who also did not have a long run at the head of the business, keeping the position for only 18 months.

Since Newton joined, Google's local presence has grown, with the company investing in mobile advertising platform Admob, which has a local arm, as well as the introduction of some of the more coveted Google products from the international market.

Working up to the Fifa Soccer World Cup, Newton pushed the implementation of Google Street View, and has been in discussions with local providers to bring in local content. He has had a strong focus on bringing as much local information to local Internet users as possible.

The new head will have to continue the run of Newton, opening up SA to other Google products.

Google's local communications head, Julie Taylor, says the company has seen several good candidates. However, she adds: “It's important to find the best person in the South African market who understands the online space.”

The company's job spec is calling for someone with sales and marketing experience, and the new head will have to bring some fresh and innovative ideas to Google SA's presence.

Tailor says: “We are committed to SA and invested significantly in the country, launching in the past year alone local versions of Google Maps, Street View and YouTube.”

While there are several candidates on the cards already, Google is encouraging interested parties to apply through its African jobs page.