Google's head of search spam, Matt Cutts, announced on his blog that he is taking "a leave" through October of this year. In short, he is going completely off the grid and not dealing with anything Google related, i.e. his work, for the next four months or so.
Why? Did he burn out? Is he looking to do other things in work? He says no. He said, he is doing it because his wife deserves it:
When I joined Google, my wife and I agreed that I would work for 4-5 years, and then she’d get to see more of me. I talked about this as recently as last month and as early as 2006. And now, almost fifteen years later I’d like to be there for my wife more. I know she’d like me to be around more too, and not just physically present while my mind is still on work.
So we’re going to take some time off for a few months.
Spammers are going to take over Google's search results? Nah. Matt Cutts wrote, "Thanks to a deep bench of smart engineers and spam fighters, the webspam team is in more-than-capable hands. Seriously, they’re much better at spam fighting than I am, so don’t worry on that score."
Honestly, Matt has been dealing with so much negativity for so long, both on how Google isn't fair, how Google is immoral, how Google is evil and even on positive things that turn around. He has been attacked for years and just recently was verbally called a liar by Jason Calacanis who said he wants revenge. I doubt now that it got to him and that is why he is taking off. He would have burned out a long time ago.
Is this a sign of things to come? Will he eventually retire and get into something else, like maybe politics? I wouldn't be surprised if that wasn't part of him 2-5 year timeline.
But in October/November, he will come back, he will see that Google did manage to chug along without him. He will be more comfortable leaving Google with their day-to-day stuff and will likely be more comfortable leaving Google. That being said, he also will be refreshed, energized and ready to get his hands dirty in web spam again, at least for the time being.
Who will be the next poster-boy at Google to be slammed and blamed for Google's algorithm updates? Maybe John Mueller? John did take the most recent hit for announcing the authorship change. Maybe it would be nameless and spread across Google as a team? It is unclear. But I think things are set up in a way that this can work.
In any event, Matt can take the time off (he has earned it) and more importantly deserves the time off. We will miss you Matt but your wife deserves the time. Enjoy!