Google’s Biggest Threat Is GoogleBy CLAIRE CAIN MILLER
“There are basically no companies that have good slow decisions,” Mr. Page said in a rare public appearance at Google’s Zeitgeist conference in Paradise Valley, Ariz. “There are only companies that have good fast decisions. As companies get bigger, they slow down decision making, and that’s a big problem.”
It’s a problem he has tried to address since he took over as chief executive from Eric E. Schmidt in April.
“He’s in there doing that, forcing the choice and forcing the resolution,” Mr. Schmidt, now Google’s chairman, said at the conference.
Mr. Page is also working on integrating all of Google’s products and improving their user interfaces, he said.
Google “should stand for a beauty, technological purity of innovation and things that are important to people,” he said. It should also be a trusted brand, he said.
“It’s very important to us that people know we’re acting in their interest and we’re trustworthy, both as stewards of information access and for their own personal data,” he said.
Mr. Page, who typically avoids public appearances, spoke to the audience of Google customers. He seemed uncomfortable at first in jeans and a sweatshirt, reading from notes on paper.
He repeatedly said how “super excited” he was about Google products like Google+, Chrome, Android and YouTube. He grew more comfortable when Mr. Schmidt, who is well versed in speaking publicly, joined him, “because he knows how to really answer the hard questions,” Mr. Page said.
The two seemed to have an easy relationship in which they can tease each other.
Asked about Google’s biggest challenges, Mr. Page shouted, “Google.”
Mr. Schmidt said more diplomatically, “The problems at a company at Google’s scale are always internal at some level.”
“Yeah, that’s why I said Google,” Mr. Page said, laughing.
The two executives addressed driverless cars, which Google has been working on and which Mr. Page said had been an interest of his since graduate school.
“Our computers drive your car better than you do when you’re drunk,” Mr. Schmidt said.
“Or when you’re 16 or when you’re old,” Mr. Page said. “You’ll get a software update and your car will be safe, which is great.”
Mr. Page also spoke about the patent wars, which have been continuing in Silicon Valley as tech companies sue one another. Google, which has never sued over patents, said it bought Motorola Mobility in part to protect itself with its patents.
“There’s an element in technology and software of innovating and moving quickly and trying to do new stuff rather than using the legal system to prevent people from doing things,” Mr. Page said.
Mr. Page said that technology in general and particularly social networking will look entirely different in five years.
“Seven years ago there were no social networking tools and five years from now it’s going to be completely different again,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is make sure we’re driving the next five years, and that’s our job.”