Ruth Porat, the longtime chief financial officer of Morgan Stanley, was for many years considered the "most powerful woman on Wall Street." Now, Porat will be the most powerful woman at Google.
Porat announced her move this morning, saying that she was "delighted" to become Google's chief financial officer after nearly 20 years at Morgan Stanley. "Growing up in Silicon Valley, during my time at Morgan Stanley and as a member of Stanford’s Board, I’ve had the opportunity to experience first hand how tech companies can help people in their daily lives," she added.
Porat will be in charge of Google's finances at a time when the search giant is looking for new sources of revenue. Desktop display search ads, which built Google into a billion-dollar business, are fading in value as mobile usage grows. And while its Android platform continues to dominate smartphone usage, Google has planted seeds in many other areas—including driverless cars, Google Fiber high-speed Internet, and Google Glass—to try to find its next big cash cow.
For Porat, who grew up partly in Palo Alto, going back to Google will be a homecoming of sorts. It will also be an indicator of just how much the center of economic excitement has shifted from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. The tech world's free snacks, laid-back work culture, and generous stock packages made it attractive to young people years ago, but now, even top-tier financiers are joining in. Former Goldman Sachs banker Anthony Noto is now Twitter's CFO; another top Goldman banker, Scott Stanford, recently became a venture capitalist.
Porat will be the only woman serving as a C-level executive at Google. Last year, she told Politico that she thought about how to bring more women into positions of power at large companies:
I think what Sheryl Sandberg said about the importance of “leaning in” is very true but it’s not sufficient. Because if you are leaning in to a door that is nailed shut, you are just going to get bloodied and tired of trying to push that door open. So you have got to have the next level, which is, “how do you open up those doors to the ever-bigger roles?”
Now that Porat has opened up a big role for herself at Google, the title of "most powerful woman on Wall Street" will likely shift to Marianne Lake, JPMorgan Chase's chief financial officer.