Long-time Google executive Megan Smith is taking over as general manager of Google.org, but will continue in her existing role as vice president of new business development.
Larry Brilliant stepped down earlier this week as Google's philanthropic lead to become Google.org's chief philanthropy evangelist. The Well cofounder had been hired as an executive director for Google's philanthropic arm in 2006.
Smith will initially focus on the ways that Google.org can best serve investments in global health, renewable and clean energy, disease tracking and more. "One of the first things that Megan will focus on is how Google.org can best achieve its mission," Brilliant wrote on Google's official blog. "During our review it became clear that while we have been able to support some remarkable non-profit organizations over the past three years, our greatest impact has come when we've attacked problems in ways that make the most of Google's strengths in technology and information."
Google.org, which is funded with about 1% of Google's equity and profits, relies on the search engine's engineers for many of its projects. The group invests in for-profit companies and provides philanthropic grants.
Some suggest the management change in the philanthropic arm reflects the company's growing pains.
Smith's spouse is Kara Swisher, writer of The Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital blog. With Walt Mossberg, Swisher co-produces and co-hosts D: All Things Digital, a high-tech and media conference.
Swisher declined to comment on the attributes that Smith brings to the task, pointing to the disclaimer about their relationship on her blog. The two try hard to remain transparent publicly. Swisher has a disclosure statement on her blog that states that Smith does not share information with her about Google.
"I do avoid stuff she is working directly on, and--although I used to cover Google a long time ago for the Journal--Google is mostly covered by Peter Kafka and John Paczkowski on our site," she said.