My Dinner With Google Analytics

April 21, 2006

At the eMetrics Summit, I unknowingly ended up sitting at dinner between two people I would never have met outside the summit: Paul Muret, the former CEO of Urchin and now the head of Google Analytics, and Tomas Remotigue, formerly an Omniture Sitecatalyst implementer and now the product manager who integrates GA with Google AdWords. I probably got that last description a little wrong, but it’s close. (Inside Adwords thinks they are the source of help on this topic, but now I really know who to talk to…)

On the one hand — the left hand — was Tomas, who taught me a lot about SiteCatalyst, and in particular, how companies who have enormous sites use SC in “sample” mode so that they don’t have to incur high charges. Tomas, who has now been at Google for about a year, also pointed out to me that it is so important for him to get out of the Googleplex and meet real users. “I get to work every day and there are over 500 emails in my inbox,” he said. “Real emails, not spam. I have to get them done before another 500 come through, and oh, I have to get some real work done too. So I have to rely on autoresponders. The chance to sit and talk to real users is wonderful.”

Then I asked Paul Muret, on my right side, how he was enjoying the conference. He thought it was excellent. “Why?” I asked. “It’s not like you need to sell your product, the way the other vendors here do.” (Google Analytics was one of the sponsors.) And then he explained to me that a conference like the eMetrics Summit helps him understand cutting edge analytics and what users want and need in order to build better functionality into GA.

We also talked about the benefits of selling Urchin to Google. He felt that the ability to give the product away for free was wonderful. It is amazing, he pointed out, how much time and effort they used to put into pricing, licensing, etc, and now all of that is gone — their only job is to create functionality for users. (And to figure out who gets GA, I suppose. I would like to be a little more cynical about Google Analytics, but Paul is such a wonderful guy that it is hard to revert to my usual mode.)

Finally, he told me about the best Google benefit: the food. (I’m serious.) “You know how it is when you’re an entrepreneur,” he said, “You’re always running, no time to eat, when you do eat it’s something fast and unhealthy.” Apparently, Google has many cafeterias, one of which is California Healthy with lots of vegetarian options, and he really loves it.

Just thought you would want to know what the GA team eats.

Robbin Steif