Google executive traces his success back to Utah

Published: Monday, Dec. 12 2011 8:39 p.m. MST

Danny Young, a director of business operations at Google, traces his success back to his roots in Utah startups.

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As Google redraws some of its major websites, including YouTube and Google+, Utah-native and BYU graduate Danny Young and his team work to integrate the many products at the Mountain View, Calif.-based Internet company.

Young, a director of business operations at Google, wouldn't comment about the specifics of a YouTube redesign. He did, however, mention that Google+, the company's social network site, would be integrated into YouTube, which is one of the responsibilities of Young and his team.

The new feature will allow Google+ users to watch YouTube videos within the social site. The integration is something Young has been working on since before Google+ began.

"The Google+ team was working really hard to get this thing out the door," Young told the Deseret News over the phone from his hotel room in Dublin, Ireland, where he was attending a global leadership conference. "They knew that an important part of Google+ and the whole experience was going to be integration with other products at Google, like YouTube."

Young's experience in technology companies began while he was a computer science student at BYU. He worked as a software developer for a start-up firm called Icon, which was later purchased by Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd.

He also worked at Novell Inc. and Intel Corp. both in the early '90s.

Young was finally able to return to his hometown of Salt Lake City in 2007 after he became a senior adviser at TPG Capital, a global private equity firm based in Texas.

"Family was a big part of my move," Young said. "I just love the area."

Young said his experience in start-ups helped prepare him for his current position at Google, which he took in January 2011.

At the start-ups where he worked, Young would often do the job of three people. While working in start-ups, Young did everything from computer programming to translating Japanese, a language he learned while serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Now that he's at Google, not much has changed.

"Google is a large company, but it feels like a small company in a lot of ways," Young said. "Although it's a big company, I've found that I'm wearing a lot of hats again at Google."

Young believes colleges in Utah can prepare students for their careers by diversifying their skills.

"The really smart people who are developing things are multidisciplinary," said Young, who often has friendly rivalries with his brother, who went to the University of Utah.

Seemingly unreachable goals, like indexing all the information in the world, are something Young likes about his current employer.

Young encourages Utah companies to follow Google's example and set lofty goals and avoid negative stigmas of not making them.

"At every other company I've belonged to, it's a bad thing if you don't get your goal," Young said. "Here at Google, it's a bad thing if you get 100 percent of your goal. The reason why is because you weren't thinking big enough about your goal."

Email: jferguson@desnews.com

TWITTER: @joeyferguson

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