December 11, 2012
"Do you really want to use all your concrete and steel to build parking lots? It seems pretty stupid."

Google’s Larry Page steps into the one-on-one CEO exclusive interview ring, in the wake of Tim Cook’s bout with Bloomberg Businessweek’s Josh Tyrangiel. Miguel Helft’s interview is far-reaching, and while it’s impossible to imagine that the chief of a public company will say anything controversial on the record, there are some interesting insights into the company’s culture and management, including Page’s comment above, related to their focus on developing driverless cars, which reflects a breadth of curiosity and interest one might not attach to an advertising company. The whole interview is well worth a read; here are some of the quotes that stuck out for me: 

On internal culture/talent: “We want to do things that will motivate the most amazing people in the world to want to work on them.” Google’s focus on internal talent is pretty legendary. The question that this comment sparked for me, however, is “not on those who actually want to use the products?” 

On interoperability and playing nicely with others (especially pertinent in the wake of the Twitter/Instagram bust-up): “I think it would be nice if everybody would get along better and the users didn’t suffer as a result of other people’s activities.” 

Echoing my colleagues’ theory of the Innovation Ambition Matrix, Page outlines Google’s commitment of 70% of efforts to incremental innovation, 20% to adjacent projects, and 10% to new-to-the-world ideas. It’s a simple enough theory that is nonetheless super hard to pull off. As he puts it, “it’s actually hard to get people to work on stuff that’s really ambitious. It’s easier to get people working on incremental things.”

On the importance and value of iteration: “If you look at a product, and you say the day it launched, “It’s not doing what I think it should do.” We say, “Well, yeah. It just launched today.”

On the fact that he and his team aren’t even close to done yet: “I have a deep feeling that we are not even close to where we should be.” Well then.

April 4, 2012
"The general trend of the industry toward being a lot more litigious somehow has just been—it has been a sad thing. There is a lot of money going to lawyers and things, instead of building great products for users. I think that companies usually get into that when they’re toward the end of their life cycle or they don’t have confidence in their abilities to compete naturally."

Google CEO, Larry Page sounds off about innovation and patent-trolling in a rare interview with Bloomberg Businessweek’s Brad Stone. Doesn’t really share too much you didn’t already know, though I confess I enjoyed reading his barely veiled digs at competitors such as Yahoo (see above; ouch) and Facebook. On the latter, he says: "Our friends at Facebook have imported many, many, many Gmail addresses and exported zero addresses. And they claim that users don’t own that data, which is a totally specious claim. It’s completely unreasonable." Our friends, indeed.

April 17, 2011
Henry Blodget at Business Insider takes a look at first Google’s earnings call with new CEO Larry Page at the helm. Wall Street’s miffed that Google’s not doing things the way it thinks the Mountain View-based company should do things. Google, of course, never promised that it would, and Blodget makes a good case that it shouldn’t, either.

If Google is to wrest back the mantle of innovation leadership from Apple and Facebook, it needs to focus on the long term. It needs to revitalize the culture of innovation that defined the company in the beginning. It needs to make big, bold bets that cost a lot of money.  And it needs to address its biggest weaknesses.  In short, it needs to do exactly what Larry Page and Sergey Brin said Google would do when it went public seven years go: Focus on the long-term, not the short term, and make decisions that won’t make short-term investors happy.

Short-termism is a chronic problem in business. Innovation doesn’t come with guarantees, and any bets that will pay off quickly are more likely to be incremental improvement than game-changing innovation. The Street knows this, of course, but its systems and structure dictate that its practitioners chase the new and the shiny and punish all else. 
Of course, this approach doesn’t mean Page will necessarily get innovation back on track at Google, but it’s rare and refreshing to find business leaders strong enough to withstand the immense pressure of the stockbrokers. (Link via Dan Gillmor.)

Henry Blodget at Business Insider takes a look at first Google’s earnings call with new CEO Larry Page at the helm. Wall Street’s miffed that Google’s not doing things the way it thinks the Mountain View-based company should do things. Google, of course, never promised that it would, and Blodget makes a good case that it shouldn’t, either.

If Google is to wrest back the mantle of innovation leadership from Apple and Facebook, it needs to focus on the long term. It needs to revitalize the culture of innovation that defined the company in the beginning. It needs to make big, bold bets that cost a lot of money.  And it needs to address its biggest weaknesses.  In short, it needs to do exactly what Larry Page and Sergey Brin said Google would do when it went public seven years go: Focus on the long-term, not the short term, and make decisions that won’t make short-term investors happy.

Short-termism is a chronic problem in business. Innovation doesn’t come with guarantees, and any bets that will pay off quickly are more likely to be incremental improvement than game-changing innovation. The Street knows this, of course, but its systems and structure dictate that its practitioners chase the new and the shiny and punish all else.

Of course, this approach doesn’t mean Page will necessarily get innovation back on track at Google, but it’s rare and refreshing to find business leaders strong enough to withstand the immense pressure of the stockbrokers. (Link via Dan Gillmor.)