Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Radio Interview with Marissa Mayer

(Hopefully fair-use thumbnail of a photo)
from Marissa Mayer's public album

KQED FM hosted one of the most interesting interviews with Marissa Mayer, Vice President for Search Products & User Experience at Google. Some tidbits:

- because of the limited environments where you are able to search and because of the small number of options to express your searches, you search less often than you should. For example, you can't find web pages that describe an idea and you can't speak to a search engine.

- the goal for Google Street View is to find what something looks like (e.g.: the door to a museum).

- Google could make $80-200 million/year by adding ads to Image Search, but people would use the product less.

- Google shows fewer ads to make them more relevant and more meaningful to users.

- Google builds products for a broad audience of users, so the products have to be simple and easy to use.

- the ad targeting in Gmail works by finding the most relevant words from a message and then listing ads that are related to those words.

- Larry Page and Sergey Brin read some studies that showed it's good to have around 25% of the technical workforce women to get a balanced environment and managed to maintain this proportion inside Google.

- Google does a small amount of outsourcing for testing and user interface design.

- the median age for Google's employees generally follows the average between Larry's age and Sergey's age.

- 80% of the calls to GOOG-411 return satisfactory results.

- there are more than a million of books in Google Book Search and the average number of pages for a book is 300, so Book Search has a similar index with Google's index from 2000.

- no plans for building a desktop operating systems.

- the public version of Google Health will be launched shortly.

The interview can be downloaded as an MP3 (24 MB) or listened using the player below (52 minutes):