David Lawee, Google's vice president of marketing, gets a slavishly unquestioning interview on BusinessWeek's website. Lawee stayed relentlessly on message, painting the usual rainbows-and-unicorns picture of life at the Googleplex. His PR handlers surely must have been pleased. As long as no one bothered, that is, to point out the obvious subtext: That Lawee's job has absolutely no point, and that he comes across as a complete tool. Ooops. I guess someone just did. Here are the lowlights of Lawee's interview, and why he wins our latest award for Silicon Valley Tool.
- The faux humility. Lawee loves talking about Google's humility. Loves loves loves. He keeps returning to the idea that Google is a "humble" company:
[We] don't actually want to be out trumpeting ourselves and beating our chest. That actually doesn't feel comfortable for us.
- But the entire article is one big chest-thump about how Google's the humblest company in the world. When it comes to humble, Google's ready to rumble. Don't try to out-humble Google, Lawee might as well have said, or a gang of Googlers will come to your home and abase themselves on your front lawn. If Lawee really believed in Google's humility, he wouldn't talk about it so much.
- The preaching without the practice.
We're a very innovative company, not just in terms of the products that we're creating but the way that we're organized.... You can't say you're innovative. You actually have to be innovative.
- Unless, of course, you're Google's David Lawee, giving an interview to BusinessWeek, in which case it's fine to just say it. Ad nauseam.
- The pointless job. Lawee calls himself a "brand steward." The only on-the-job activity besides meeting that he describes in the interview seems to involve giving people tours of the Googleplex. And any real work that comes his way, Lawee delegates. Google UK's logo? He outsourced that to a bunch of schoolkids. Speechwriting? He relied on a chauffeur's banter. He even admits it:
I think I have the easiest marketing job in the world. I have unbelievable products and I have a great story to tell. So, yeah. But staying on top of everything is a huge challenge.
- The unfairness of it all. It's bad enough that Lawee has a do-nothing job. But it's not like he even needs the salary, or options on Google shares with a strike price around $300 (Google shares are currently trading around $520). Prior to joining Google in 2005, Lawee sold Xfire, an online-gaming company he cofounded, to Viacom for $110 million. If he wanted to sit around doing nothing, he could have just retired.