Internet pioneer Vint Cerf goes to work for Google

Google has boosted its executive team by hiring Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf as its chief Internet evangelist, the company announced Thursday.

Google has boosted its executive team by hiring Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf as its chief Internet evangelist, the Mountain View, Calif., company announced Thursday.

Cerf will help Google "build network infrastructure, architectures, systems and standards for the next generation of Internet applications," Google said in a press release.

Cerf has resigned as senior vice president of technology strategy at MCI, effective Sept. 12, and joins Google officially on Oct. 3, he said.

Among the motivations for working for Google is his interest in being involved with developing "higher level" Internet applications of the sort Google is creating, as opposed to the work at MCI, which naturally is focused on a telecommunications angle, he said.

"The difference is that at MCI, although we were moving in the direction of value-added applications, we were coming at it from the underlying telecom infrastructure perspective," he said. "In the case of Google, it is already operating well above the IP layer of the Internet."

Cerf, a longtime friend of Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt, still doesn't know which projects he will be involved in at Google. His first task upon joining Google will be to spend time not only at the company's headquarters but also in its operations elsewhere "to get a clearer sense of what they currently have on the books and what possibilities might lie ahead," he said. "Part of my job is to uncover new technologies that might be relevant to Google's continuing growth in services and applications."

He is also looking forward to sharing with the Google team what he calls "half-baked ideas" he has, such as different ways for users to interact with Google services, using for example voice, in addition to the conventional point-and-click approach, he said.

"The first thing I'll have to do is explore [these ideas] with the rest of the Google team to see whether or not they merit any further attention," he said. "And I know they have ideas, literally a cornucopia of them, and the problem they have is figuring out which ones to pursue and I hope I can help with that."

Cerf, co-designer of the TCP/IP protocols used to develop the Internet's core architecture, will continue as chairman of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), according to Google. He will also continue working on the Interplanetary Network, a NASA project whose goal is to extend the Internet into outer space for interplanetary communications, Google said.

His biography page on ICANN's Web site states that Cerf is known as one of the "fathers of the Internet," thanks to the Internet development work he did with partner Robert Kahn.

Cerf worked at MCI from 1982 to 1986 and rejoined the company in 1994, where he stayed until now. Between 1986 and 1994, he worked at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives.

Between 1976 and 1982 he worked with the U.S. Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency, where he "played a key role leading the development of Internet and Internet-related data packet and security technologies," according to his biography on ICANN's Web site.

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