A handful of high-profile departures does not mean Google is facing a brain drain. But the company is starting to suffer something that could have an equally significant impact: a drain of some of the entrepreneurial energy that drove its early growth and on which its unique culture depends heavily.
Talk of a potentially damaging loss of talent has been sparked by the departures of Sheryl Sandberg, who ran its AdWords programme, to Facebook, and Doug Merrill, the chief information officer, to EMI. Behind these headlines has been a trickle of other long-time executives, such as Ethan Beard, head of social media, and Chris Sacca, who led its wireless initiatives.
On the face of it, Google continues to suck in some of the best talent around. The company added more than 6,000 employees last year to take the total to 16,805. Even former Googlers pay tribute to the intellectually stimulating culture, good pay levels and extravagant benefits.
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