Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 5:45 pm.

Google plus Motorola: Will it blend?

The WSJ’s Shayndi Raice has a good story today about how Google could have some real challenges integrating Motorola, which has about 20,000 employees and a very different culture than Google.

Choice bit:

One former Android executive boasted that Google employees has [sic], on average, 20 IQ points more than their Motorola counterparts.

This is the typical Google arrogance for you. I don’t know if this is true or not; Google does hire smart people. But the fact that someone would even think to say that — even an ex-exec – is cause for concern.

(As John Gruber says, “if that’s even vaguely indicative of the average Google employee’s estimation of their Motorola counterparts, get me some popcorn. This is going to be fun.”)

Back to the piece:

Regarding cultural differences, a Google spokeswoman said: “This story is searching for a problem that does not exist. As we have said repeatedly, we intend to run the company as a separate entity.”

In other words, Google PR doesn’t think the WSJ should be writing this story, because Motorola employees will be kept separate from Google employees, and won’t have to worry about cultures seeping between the companies.

That is the plan, but we’ll see how long that lasts. My hunch is that Google will either have to integrate Motorola more than it thinks, decimate its workforce and assets into a hardware R&D lab, or spin it off entirely, keeping Motorola’s patents. But Google can’t say any of that right now, because anything that potentially puts American jobs in jeopardy could be a political and regulatory nightmare.

This isn’t a situation like YouTube, where Google was acquiring a small startup with 65 employees, and growing it as a wholly owned but separately housed company. Motorola is a gigantic company that could materially harm Google’s overall well-being if it doesn’t excel, and it hasn’t excelled in more than half a decade.

Former Motorola CEO Ed Zander wins with the most realistic quote in the story:

“They are going to have to stand alone and win in the marketplace, or Google will shut them down and just focus on the patents,” he predicted.

In other words, it is time to shine for Motorola. Or figuring out how to merge the cultures will be the least of Google’s worries.

Related: What is Google buying, anyway? Here’s a breakdown of Motorola Mobility