Former Google employee Douglas Edwards1, in an interview with Michael Hickins for The Wall Street Journal‘s Speakeasy blog:
I think Eric [Schmidt] added value, certainly as an employee of the company, things became more transparent. He was better at communicating what was going on, what our goals were, and keeping the employees marching along with the leaders. Whereas they would just march straight ahead and expect that at some point you would figure out you were supposed to be following them. So, he certainly added a layer of if you want to call it the UI, the user interface. Eric was a good UI. He was a more user-friendly UI than what you would have gotten just from Larry and Sergey.
I think that’s an interesting and mostly accurate analogy to describe part of Eric Schmidt’s role, or that of any CEO. Although it doesn’t help to explain some of his more uncomfortably honest comments. Every UI has its quirks.
Edwards recently released a book about his time at Google, titled “I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59.” Alex Chitu has a good overview at Google Operating System. ↩