Larry Page: Biggest Threat To Google? “Google”

It’s the Google Zeitgeist conference, Google’s big event for major partners and advertisers. Last session of the event? A talk with Google CEO Larry Page and chairman Eric Schmidt. Here’s my live blog, ending with the Page’s answer that Google has nothing to fear but Google itself.

Larry says he hopes everyone is inspired by the past two days (that’s part of what Zeitgeist is about, inspirational panels). Thanks audience for business and partnerships.

Talking about autobiography he was given at 12 about Nicola Tesla. “I thought I wanted to be an inventor when I grew up.” Tesla was like a mad scientist inventor. But once finished reading story, “I basically cried … you could be the world’s greatest inventor but still be a failure.”

Goal since was that companies could do things. “We want to build technology that everyone loves using and really affects everyone.”

Mentions Google just turning 13, how it’s always a debate when exactly that is but “roughly” there. What has Google done that’s worked well? Having a user focus and iterating fast to things successful.

Why search? At Standford, had done some researching on ranking things better. Typed in “university” into search engines at the time, got “random web pages.” Pages that just had the words. When to talked to search engines, asked why they’d do this, got response it was user area.

“That’s why we went on to build a search engine. We realized no one was focused on them.” and says “That’s true of many things in the world.”

Now shifts to talking about Google+ — “super excited.” “We want to build a closer relationship with all of our users.” Want to integrate all their products, making being on the web more like real life.

We also wanted to have an amazing experience for mobile. Using those more like computers now. What’s amazing with Google+ is how there’s automated uploading from your phone, “it’s a totally magical experience” and you can share.

Talking about Will I Am doing a concert Friday on Google+ through a hangout. Says Google+ can be helpful in search. Says repeatedly “really excited” about Google Plus.

Now talking about buying Android when it was little. They had dream would build open source platform that would revolutionize things. “That was crazy.” Had a closet full of phones that didn’t work, but having focus and dedication, were able to get there.

“I see the same movie playing out again and again.” People thought Android was crazy at the time, or things like Chrome, “why do you need another browser” but it’s got 160 million people using (think he said) but it’s growing like crazy. Display, “what are you guys going to do” people would say to Google. But now they’re big — and funding content across the web.

YouTube, which Mark Cuban thinks we shouldn’t have bought, I disagree. Multiplied ad revenue by 3X for past three years (think he said) in a row.

In technology, still early stage, so way overestimate next year and underestimate the next five years.

Tools we use to interact online will be completely different five years from now. Think back five years, we had no social networking tools. Lots of potential to make things more efficient, more enjoyable going forward. Trying hard to build those tools with Google+.

Talking phones now, how they’re as powerful as computers, it knows where you are, it’s always with you, those capabilities will change the world, “and we’ve only just started.” Talking about Google Wallet and how it’s an “amazing experience” for buying and “that’s just the tip of the iceberg” for phones

Google has responsibility to make the world better. That’s why he loves his job, to make the world better.

Invites Eric Schmidt up, who reads a long quote from Cory Booker that I didn’t catch sorry, was getting some publishing stuff fixed here. But we’re moving to Q&A.

Question: More fun last few years for first few years?

Larry: First few years were really stressful. Eric: As opposed to now, he jokes Makes refernence to a near bankruptcy in the past, the cash restriction program, the Crap program he says, when we wouldn’t pay our bills. Larry then says “I think the first few years were really stresssful” and laughs all around. Larry says gotten easier as things have gone along.

Question From John Battelle: What’s the Google brand equally going forward, when it has been search in the past.

Larry: “I think it’s important that people trust the brand, that people know we’re acting in their interests.” Talking on security. “It should stand for a beauty, a technological purity and innovation” and things that are important to people.

Question: Does Motorola represent a new era for Google of greater risk taking and how you’ll absorb it.

Larry: While it’s significant, it’s not doubling our market cap as much as we’d like it to. It’s relatively small in that sense. Company has always wanted to make investments in the future. YouTube he mentions “we’ve always strived to take those kind of risks and recognize those kind of opportunities.” Motorola went all Android before any others so it’s a “very natural partner.”

Question: Talk about technology transfer from patent to creation to business development and more that can be done to release hidden potential in university walls.

Eric: Stanford did well off Google. Larry: Yes, we gave them a little bit of equity. Says Stanford does well culturally by letting professors go start companies, then come back and teach. When went to start Google, professors could sent them off to business people. That type of culture doesn’t happen many places. On patents, says never sued anyone over them though has been sued many times, but somehow been succcessful.

Question: On how management styles have changed.

Eric: We’re smarter. Things have always been tightly managed, though. We as a management team found a way to manage at scale using data analytics that are the envy of the world. People have to back with data, can just throw random guesses. Larry has particularly good judgement on if someone can enter such an intense environment.

Larry: Recently reorganized to focus on product areas. Any company as it grows, if the company’s not static, you have to reorganized. Looking at our business is pretty complicated, many products he names from YouTube to Android, those are all different. Made sure “we were super focused” on user experience. As more offices in different time zones, had to keep changing how to do meetings.

Eric: When you’re growing as fast as we did, most of our execs were in their 30s. Five years later, they are battle scarred veterans with great experience.

Question: Where will you be in another 13 years or 20 years. Can you even envision?

Eric: Mentions Moore’s law continuing — Larry, “You’ll have a Google in your pocket” Eric: “It’s tantalizing what will be possible”

Larry: In college, auto-driving car seemed impossible but when you have the data, it’s not.

Eric: Our computer drive our cars better than when you’re drunk. That’s our starting point.”

Larry: Going on waste of time, waste of lives due to human driving. Peopel would be doing other things, “watching TV or looking at ads.” Part of our role is to be a catalyst.

Eric: And privilege of Google is profits big enough can do some of these things.

Question: But how set boundaries to not get lost?

Larry: “Most companies don’t add people as they do new things.” so as adding people, adding businesses. Things also have to be significant, not “we’re going to do horoscopes.”

Question: What are you doing to communicate better than you do now?

Larry: We as important people are trying to improve the internet and how it works. Ask anyone about how info propagates, what people should focus on, “I think it could work better than it does now.” Ask any company or politician, they have similar issues about what people should focus on.

Question: If you had to write a get well card to Yahoo, what would that say?

Schmidt: Google should talk about Google, aside from my snide comments about one of our former competitors. But… Yahoo has been a partner and competitor for a long time. “I think they should sort our their leadership issues” and that’s all I’ll say.

Question: Didn’t catch.

Larry: I have been hassling universities that they should be growing more. Serious issue that people need to be excited to be computer scientists, talking with Will I Am about how to make that sexy. Jokes all the naming conventions and jargon not so cool, jokes “I guess it’s all Eric’s fault.”

Eric: Mindless and stupid policy of immigration of people into America needs to be fixed.

Question from Steven Levy: What’s the biggest threat to Google’s success.

Larry: Loudly, “Google.”

Eric: Problem for company of Google’s scale are always internal.

Larry: Yeah, that’s why I said Google [laughs in audience]

Eric: References a memo from Larry and that large companies are their own worst enemy and how Larry is using his unique talents to force resolution.

Larry: There are no companies that have good slow decisions. There are only good companies that have fast decisions.

Missed a response on Motorola.

Question: Biggest Mistakes?

Larry: We initially didn’t get a Yahoo deal on ads way back when. Debated what to do, didn’t have money to do it, “we made a mistake not having a enough capital”

Eric: Hard to pick good years or bad years. “They’re all good.” Always winning somewhere else. “You have to judge in totally” and I would argue that the story in total is good.

Larry: You can’t run backwards in a company.

Question: Really long statement praising Google.

Eric: Thanks. Remembers about how during Vietnam War, information took so long to move around. If you take the vision that Larry laid out, the changes in society in the next 50 years will be equally dramatic. Larry?

Larry: Yeah. We should get people to their planes [to audience laughter].

And that’s it. Speaking of planes, I have to run to one myself. Sorry for the typos.

Postscript:Aside from being very nice dining partners last night, Amir Efrati of the Wall Street Journal and Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times both have formal write-ups of the talk now. The WSJ one is here; the NYT one is here.

Meanwhile, Peter Kafka over at AllThingsD notes the video is now online. That means you can enjoy today’s talk first hand. The video is here and embedded below. Larry’s declaration about Google needing to worry about Google happens at 38 minutes in.

YouTube Preview Image

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Features: General | Google: Business Issues | Top News


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • Ralph

    I hit refresh a couple of times as I thought my browser was causing the typos! Thanks for this Danny, it’s well summarized despite the typos.

  • Daniel Cutler

    1. How could anything threaten Google? It’s not a company, it’s the world’s most expansive set of data constantly evaluated by the world’s most intelligent calculations. They’re so far ahead of the curve it’s ludicrous.

    2. Google spreadsheets might be the best thing they’ve given us yet. It’s the beginning of that personal Google in your pocket that they were talking about.

    3. If you want to figure out what Google will do next, just ask yourself: “What Would the Data Do?” Of course, you won’t have answer because you don’t have the data. But it’s still the right question.

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