Many on Wall Street think that Larry Page hasn’t been visible or accessible enough. In part because of investor uncertainty about the former and current Google CEO (and a number of other factors) Google’s share price has dropped about $100 since Page took over from Eric Schmidt in April.
During the company’s first quarterly earnings call about a month ago, as new CEO, Page made a very brief appearance at the top of the call, read some prepared remarks and left matters to his CFO and several others. Immediately there was criticism from some investors that Page was too “aloof.”
I agree that it was a bit strange that Page didn’t stick around for the discussion or Q&A.
But Page’s defenders said that he was right to ignore investors and focus on the business. However, yesterday Page made himself plenty accessible and spoke at length at Google’s annual shareholder meeting, seeking to reintroduce himself to 250 of the company’s largest shareholders.
Page sought to address critics and nervous investors, providing assurances that Google’s priorities were right. According to the Mercury News, “Page affirmed his focus on fiscal discipline, lauded Google’s successes with Android smartphones, display advertising and its Chrome Web browser, and defended the company’s forays into unproven technology like driverless cars as necessary to not ‘choke innovation.’”
Page appears to have struck the right tone and balance, reassuring investors that Google is cautious about spending while impressing upon them the importance of experimentation and risk-taking. According to the Mercury News, Page reminded investors that Android began as a “long shot.” Now it’s on its way to being the world’s dominant mobile platform.