Google’s recent job cuts pushed out several company veterans who were instrumental in building its massive display advertising business — an operation that’s now in the crosshairs of the US government.
At least five executives who have played key roles in Google’s ad tech division lost their jobs as part of the workforce reductions, according to posts on LinkedIn and people familiar with the decisions.
Three of the executives came to Google with DoubleClick, the ad-tech firm the search giant struck a deal to buy in 2007. The acquisition made Google a powerhouse in digital advertising. While some of these executives had moved to other parts of the company, their departure may be a sign that Google is drifting away from a business that has weathered significant privacy and antitrust scrutiny.
Last week, the US Department of Justice sued Alphabet Inc.’s Google, charging the company with illegally dominating digital advertising technology. The acquisition of DoubleClick “was a first step in Google’s march to monopoly,” the DOJ and eight states argued in the complaint.
Google has denied running a monopoly. The company will likely defend its practices against the charges in court for months, if not years. But it will do so without some of the key architects of its web ads business.
A spokesperson for Google didn’t respond to a request for comment on the departure of the executives.
Asked about the cutbacks during an interview last week, Dan Taylor, Google’s vice president of global ads, said he couldn’t share how many people on the company’s ad teams lost their jobs, but noted the reductions affected all product areas at Alphabet. He stressed that the display business remains a priority for Google going forward.
“We’re incredibly committed to ensuring that an ads-based business model for the internet continues to thrive,” Taylor said.
In January, Alphabet announced it was cutting roughly 12,000 jobs from divisions across Google. Among those who lost their jobs was Scott Spencer, a Google vice president who joined with DoubleClick in 2008, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. Jonathan Bellack, another former DoubleClick executive, also was let go. Both are viewed as likely witnesses in the antitrust case.
Aitan Weinberg, a veteran Google executive who also joined the company as part of the DoubleClick acquisition, also lost his job, according to a post on LinkedIn. Weinberg declined to comment.
Spencer didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Bellack wrote in a post on LinkedIn that he had already made the decision to leave Google prior to being laid off. In an interview, he said he stopped working on ads at Google in 2018 and had been “lucky to work with some phenomenally talented people” at the company.
Spencer and Weinberg had also moved on to other teams within Google during their tenure at the company.
A number of DoubleClick alumni remain in key roles at Google, including Neal Mohan, YouTube’s chief product officer.
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