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At Google Douglas led technical infrastructure, innovation policy and was involved in everything from data centres to the company’s IPO. He now runs his own fintech business, ZestFinance.com which applied machine learning to credit and loans. Douglas applies the ideas that underpin Google’s strategy of organising information to individuals and businesses overwhelmed by the onslaught of content, information and change.
Douglas Merrill was the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and VP of Engineering at Google. During his six years with the company he was responsible for everything from running the company’s stock market floatation to managing their data centres. He now runs his own business, Zestfinance, and is the author of Getting Organized in the Google Era: How to Get Stuff Out of Your Head, Find It When You Need It, and Get It Done Right.
Overcoming childhood deafness and dyslexia to gain a PhD in cognitive science from Princeton, Douglas served as an Information Scientist at the RAND Corporation. He left the strategy, policy and data think-tank and joined investment bank Charles Schwab as VP of Infrastructure and HR Strategy. He then left finance to join Google, by then the world’s biggest search engine, but not yet the giant business it would soon become.
At Google Douglas was responsible for the company’s technical infrastructure as well as areas of strategy and innovation. He also helped lead the search giant’s high-profile initial public offering and became a key part of the business’s growth alongside CEO Eric Schmidt.
Douglas left Google with a view to entering the fintech sector. After a short period as COO of New Music at the EMI Group he founded ZestFinance.com. Inspired by a family member, he learned that over half of Americans don’t have savings of $1,000 or more for emergencies. Zest is an innovative business which applies AI and big data solutions to credit scoring. It aims to help those that would normally be overlooked by traditional finance and credit companies, offering them loans without excessive interest rates.
After starting Zest Douglas wrote Getting Organized in the Google Era, a look at how human brains simply weren’t capable of dealing with the new onslaught of content, information and change. He looked at this problem with the same view that enabled Google to organise all the information available online and asked how technology, used in the right way, could help us deal with these new challenges.
Douglas also examines the key business implications of innovation strategy and the future of work. He extends his Getting Organized ideas to the workplace, delivering a new look at how companies that are incorporating technology, rather than being built on it like Google, need strategies to adapt. He also considers the Google culture of innovation and how other companies can build a sustainable, practical process of innovation throughout.
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