Google’s George Reyes

The finance chief began instilling financial discipline at the Internet icon well before it became the envy of Silicon Valley.

One of your new ventures is Google Checkout, an E-payments service similar to PayPal. How has that been playing out?

We’re very excited about it. For Q4 ’06 [we invested] in consumer promotions [an amount equal to about] 1 percent of total gross revenue for the quarter. We have millions of buyers, thousands of merchants, and more than 100 of the top 500 online retailers.

Google is among the E-commerce giants known as the “GAMEY” companies (Google, Amazon, Microsoft, eBay, and Yahoo). Are there other companies you keep your eye on?

We regularly analyze the entire competitive environment, but we focus first on our users, advertisers, publishers, and partners. Our primary goal is to provide the best products and services to them. Innovation and competition that puts people in touch with information and expands user choice is something we welcome.

Fortune magazine recently billed Google as the best company in America to work for. Last year you added more than 2,000 people to the payroll. Do you worry about the impact of such fast head-count growth?

In some ways that article did us a disservice, because we are not, contrary to some perceptions, a bunch of goofy young kids running around on scooters. No matter how badly we need to hire, we never compromise the process, which is very torturous. In a sense, you’re being let into the club — the hiring bar is very high, so we filter applicants very carefully. So far we’ve managed to hire the best and the brightest, with minimum turnover.

What do the best and the brightest in your finance team focus on?

The top priority for my team is to maintain a rock-solid system of internal controls. Also, to closely track our performance versus plan for all of our businesses and work closely with the business-development organization to evaluate potential transactions/acquisitions. Historically, we’ve done a substantial number of these smaller “tuck in” acquisitions, which we’ve been able to nicely integrate into our business. In terms of measuring and monitoring, we closely measure cost per clicks, revenue per thousand impressions served, and the growth in our traffic. At a higher level, we care a lot about revenue growth, operating-expense growth, profitability, and free cash flow.

What are your top goals for 2007?

To continue to profitably grow our business, to attract and retain the best talent available, and to invest in continuous business-process improvements.

How often do you Google something?

All the time! It’s the fastest way to access the information I need instantly.


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