Can Google's new CIO fill Douglas Merrill's shoes?

Can Google's new CIO fill Douglas Merrill's shoes?

Executive recruiters and Wall Street analysts think Ben Fried is indeed a good choice

Google has hired Ben Fried, a managing director in charge of Morgan Stanley's application infrastructure, to replace Douglas Merrill in the CIO role. The news of Google's most recent hire comes just three weeks after Merrill left the search giant to serve as president of EMI Music's new digital music business.

Fried has some big shoes to fill in his new role. His predecessor was as famous for his rock star looks and persona (Men's Health sized up the raven-haired, pierced and tattooed Merrill-who quotes Talking Heads and INXS on his blog---as a tall drink of water standing at 6'4", 183 lbs. and seven percent body fat in its February 2008 issue) as he was for his Googley mind.

Executive recruiters and Wall Street analysts endorse Google's selection of Fried, who, they say, had an excellent reputation at Morgan Stanley.

"We think the guy is a really good choice," says Jeffrey Lindsay, a senior analyst who covers internet companies, including Google, for Sanford C. Bernstein.

Lindsay says Fried's tenure with the investment bank speak volumes about his capabilities and credibility. He notes that Fried started as a programmer and worked his way up the career ladder at Morgan Stanley over the course of his career.

"If he's managed to rise up through the ranks for 14 years at Morgan Stanley, one thing you can say for sure is that he's able to get along with people and he's a natural leader," says Lindsay. "He had to be performing at an extremely high level to get that high in Morgan Stanley."

From Silicon Alley to Silicon Valley

Lindsay says Fried's experience managing complex technology will serve him well at Google. Fried knows what it's like to manage global technology systems that process in real-time transactions worth billions of dollars. Neither Google nor Morgan Stanley can afford for their technology to go down.

Lindsay also thinks that Fried's knowledge of financial systems and corporate IT will help Google advance Google Finance and Google Apps. "There are a lot of things Google is getting into, like that deal with, that will be much more familiar territory for Ben Fried because of his background," he says. "If Google is looking to sell Google Apps to Wall Street, which it has, he will be a particularly good CIO to help them in that regard.

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