Many people quickly noticed that Marissa Mayer, who was put in charge of the vaguely defined "location and local services" area back in October, was bypassed [as seven other senior staffer got the new title] and wondered why. There's still no clear answer.
But perhaps it's no coincidence that the oddly named Hotpot (a name Google was still trying to explain in their final blog post), which debuted in November, was merged into Google Places Friday as well -- perhaps as part of Google's bigger focus on social with Google +1, as seen by Page basing the bonuses of Google employees in part on the company's social success.
I suspect Mayer will get a new title in time; I think she has a lot still to learn about location. As for Hotpot, thankfully the name will disappear into Google Places, too.