The head of Google's philanthropic arm, Google.org, is stepping down as the group's day-to-day manager, a role that will go to a new business development executive from the main Google company.
Google.org has spearheaded the company's effort to produce renewable energy at a price cheaper than coal, a high-profile effort that partly aims to cut global warming, as well as taking on health issues and global poverty.
Dr. Larry Brilliant, who joined Google.org as executive director in 2006, announced the move in a blog post on Monday.
"It's clear that I am most effective in helping to identify 'big ideas' and potential partners, as well as raising awareness about society's biggest challenges," Brilliant said in the blog post, announcing his new role as "Chief Philanthropy Evangelist."
He cited as examples of success under his leadership projects such as Flu Trends, which uses search data to track outbreaks of flu, and PowerMeter, which is developed to help homeowners track their energy use. (See: Google developing power-saving software tool)
''During our review it became clear that while we have been able to support some remarkable nonprofit organisations over the past three years, our greatest impact has come when we've attacked problems in ways that make the most of Google's strengths in technology and information,'' Brilliant wrote.
Google's vice president of new business development, Megan Smith, will take over as general manager of Google.org and work on aligning the group more closely with the rest of Google, according to the announcement.
"Megan will ensure that we're better able to build innovative, scalable technology and information solutions," Brilliant said.
"In this global economic crisis, the work Google.org is doing, together with our many colleagues around the world, to help develop cheap clean energy, find and fight disease outbreaks before they sweep the globe, and build information platforms for underserved people globally, is more important than ever," wrote Brilliant. "We stand behind the commitment made in 2004 to devote 1 per cent of Google's equity and profits to philanthropy, and we will continue to iterate on our philanthropic model to make sure our resources have the greatest possible impact for good."
As of September 2008, Google.org had committed more than $100 million in grants and investments to various initiatives focused on health, energy and global poverty. (See: Google joins hunt for cheap renewable energy / Google invests $10.25 million in geothermal energy technology / Google and GE to collaborate on promoting renewable energy )