re: Larry Page sees 'tragic' future for Google
Steve: So when I talk about Google, which was generious enough to cooperate with me when I wrote a book, I get asked two questions, John Batell sort of covered the first one, the second one that people ask me is, what is the biggest threat to Googles continuing sucess. So to help me give from the horses mouth, how shall I answer that?
Page: Google. (laughter)
Schmidt: The problems in a company of Googles scale are always internal, at some level.
Page: Yea, that's why I said Google. (laughter)
Schmidt: Yea, Larry
Steve: Actually I've been saying something like that ..
Schmidt: Yea, Larry actually .. You (Page) didn't talk about your management memo. But one of the things he did after becoming CEO in correcting all the messes I had handed him. He wrote a very defined memo about innovation, how decisions are made and so forth and it's, large companies are their own worst enemy. Because internally they know what they should do, but they don't do it.
And if I may say my business partner and close friend Larry what does he do all day? He is doing that, he is in there forcing the discussion, forcing the choice and forcing the resolution, with his unique talents. That will ultimatly determine how hugely sucessfull Google is - or not.
Page: Yea, one of the interesting things that we’ve noticed is that companies correlate on decision making and speed. Of decision making, there are basically no companies that have good slow decisions. There are only companies that have good fast decisions. I think that’s also a natural thing as companies get bigger – they tend to slow down decision-making, and that’s pretty tragic.
Question: The acquisition of Motorola has given you access to an important trove. But Motorola are also the largest manufacturer of set-top boxes in America, which obviously gives you an interesting spring board into digital television. Was that part of the strategy.
Page: It was certanly something we considered, yes (laughter).
Schmidt: We have to be carefull because under the rules, we can't really talk about Motorola, it's a seperate company today. But I will tell that when we both looked at Motorola , the quality of their current products, but more importantly what's comming in the future is amazing stuff. So hold that question until we see this stuff comming out.
Question: Looking back at these thirteen years, which ones do you consider your biggest mistakes?
Schmidt: Year seven .. prime numbers (laughs)
Page: I remember we initially did not get a Yahoo deal for ads, way back when. We actually were kind of debating what to do and we didn't have that much money and were gonna have to spend more money than we had. So actually I think we made a big mistake in not having enough capitol available in order to do that. And that caused a whole series of other things.
Schmidt: I think when companies grow as fast as Google does. It's hard to sort look back and say what was the best year or the worst year- they're all good. And what ever mistakes you made, you made because you were winning somewhere else. So you can't really look at it in isolation and I can think about, in my contribution to the company. I would say worked hard and I should have done ten things. What was I doing, oh I was busy working on these other things which are really well. So I think you have to judge in total and I would argue that the total story is quite a good one about Google as I think we're all right here.
Page: The most frustrating thing about business is that you don't get to run them the other way. There's no control - there's no control experiments you can run.
Schmidt: And by the way, you're the only person in the world Larry who would say that. (laughter)