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If you think of all the things that Google works on concurrently — self-driving cars, smart contact lenses, robotics, making phones and computers, curing death, and, ya know, search and advertising, to name a few — it can be a bit overwhelming.
Yet, for all the perceived crazy-busyness, Google is actually more focused than it used to be.
Before Larry Page resumed control of the company in 2011, Google had sort of fallen into a "left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing" situation, a former Google employee tells us. People were running around working on whatever projects they wanted. It was a bottom-up approach to figuring out the company's focus.
Since Page reclaimed the CEO position, however, the questions that are asked and the problems people are working on come from the top down, the former employee told us.
Page isn't necessarily prescriptive about what the answers should be, so individual engineers and employees still feel empowered to come up with really interesting solutions, but he's much more deliberate about the problems Google wants to solved.
Our source hypothesized that Google realized that if it really wants to solve some interesting problems, it needs to decide where to focus its attention. It can't spread itself too thin.