Larry Page as Google CEO: His top 5 challenges

Larry Page as Google CEO: His top 5 challenges

Summary: On the surface, the changing of Google executive roles looks harmless. But new Google CEO Larry Page will have some challenges ahead. Welcome to the world of CEO.

TOPICS: Banking, CXO, Google

Google has a new CEO as co-founder Larry Page steps up to the plate. Eric Schmidt hangs around as Chairman to deal with strategy and government relations and the big picture. Page's other half Sergey Brin will focus on products. And that's where things are going to be interesting.

In this obviously staged photo, Page is clearly in the driver's seat.

On the surface, this role change looks pretty harmless. Roles are changing a bit, but the odd collaboration trio of Page, Schmidt and Brin will remain intact (full story, earnings, Schmidt blog, Techmeme). However, there are challenges ahead. Here's a look at some of the larger ones that Page will have to deal with. Thinking quarterly. A CEO's success is measured three months at a time. Google hasn't had to worry about that too much since the search giant makes gobs of cash---at least enough to invest heavily in data centers, big buildings in New York City and bonuses to keep people. Page was largely insulated from that song and dance. As CEO, it's distraction city. Page will have to talk to media, government types and Wall Street analysts. That's a bit different than "the spend 10 percent of your time motif Google has going on."

Putting doubts to rest. Schmidt inadvertently put a lot of pressure on Page. On an earnings conference call, Schmidt said:

I want to say very clearly that I believe Larry is ready. He has been working on this area for a long time. His ideas are very interesting and clever, and it is time for him to have a shot at running this and doing it, and I'm sure he will do a fantastic job. It is interesting that a decade goes by very fast when you work in a partnership as wonderful as this has been, and I'm quite sure that this partnership will continue. We are friends. We are coworkers. We are computer scientists. We have a common vision. I don't anticipate any material change in any of our strategies or anything. We tend to agree on pretty much everything. But I do believe that as a result of this, we will operate and execute the business even better.

The big question here is whether Page is ready to be CEO. We've seen this founder-CEO thing before. Apple CEO Steve Jobs is a great example of success. Former Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang is an example of a management debacle. Page will have to prove he is ready. Rest assured questions will be raised the second Google hiccups.

Schmidt's shadow. Adding to this pressure on Page is the fact that Schmidt is still there. In Google's history, Schmidt was the grown-up manager to the two co-founders/visionaries. However, Page is like a CEO who still lives at home. Schmidt's shadow remains. It would almost be easier if Schmidt weren't hovering.

Page's presence. Page may have been involved in the day-to-day operations, but he hasn't really had the big stage to himself. How will Page carry a keynote? Schmidt had a veteran's view and a lot of presence based on experience. Page's persona is a work in progress.

Finding Google's next act. Schmidt alluded to Page's "clever" ideas. Page will have to deliver a few of those. Why? Google's biggest threat may be Facebook. Facebook could be an ad threat and be as meaningful to the Web ecosystem as Google. Meanwhile, Google hasn't quite figured out that social strategy. Page's job will be to answer Facebook and find Google's second act. Brin noted that Google has just tapped 1 percent of what social search can be. Page added:

If you think about the next five years of what your life will be like online socially and what kind of things the tools will be able to do, we are only at the very, very early stages of that, and I'm incredibly excited about the possibilities.

Now all Page has to do is deliver.

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Topics: Banking, CXO, Google

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  • Impressed

    Wow. What an insightful, probing, informative, thought-provoking article. It must have taken you at <i>least</i> five minutes to write! I'm so glad I read it.
    Xenia Onatopp
  • Work in progress

    Even with the work in progress stuff Google has enough to keep it busy a while.

    e.g. have you noticed how they're working on their text to speech and speech to text? And how these features are getting integrated into Youtube, and thus they'll have content in all languages, and video conferencing across languages etc.

    And that's *JUST* the obvious extrapolation of just their language work.

    Obviously they're not just going to stop at translating searches like 'estate agents madrid' as 'finques madrid', so they have lots of new stuff coming out just from the work thats in progress.
    • RE: Larry Page as Google CEO: His top 5 challenges

      Hi Google trans is not so hot as it is made out to be. The goof-ups made by MAT are hilarious and sometimes pretty disastrous. The TTS is not good either. See the mangle that it makes of a French language TTS.
      Voice to text and the round-trip (sorry Hal) are still a big pipe-dream.
      • And a million little tweaks...

        A million little tweaks are made to it each day as people contribute their knowledge to the language base. no other company has access to that. So whatever it is now, it will just get better and better, just by virtue of the data they receive.

        And their speech to text is pretty impressive, but then again, as more content is available with subtitles, they will have more data to analyse for speech to text. Again the data is flowing in to them, without work on their part.

        You see how they will control those technologies, simply because nobody else has those data feeds.

        The translation round-trip is a youtube feature in beta by the way.
        (No doubt IBM will have laid their BS patent spam in place already.)
      • Indeed...
        Back during the Windows 7 beta era, I answered a post to a guy in China using Google translate. Somehow, the bleeding POS figured that when I told the guy to get the Win 7 "Release Canddiate:, I meant to say he should get the Windows 7 "Reinforced Concrete" instead.

        Yeah.. Gotta love Google's translation matrix...

        One would seriously hope they got issues like the one above sorted out. It makes you look bad when you use their products and the product doesn't perform as expected.
  • Larry Page as Google CEO: His top 5 challenges

    Does one of the challenges include getting his employees to do real actual work instead of sitting around playing with office toys?
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Larry Page as Google CEO: His top 5 challenges

      @Loverock Davidson When you achieve 1% of what Google has, then you can talk like this.
      • RE: Larry Page as Google CEO: His top 5 challenges

        or I can talk like this now which I choose to do.
        Loverock Davidson
      • RE: Larry Page as Google CEO: His top 5 challenges

        @snoop0x7b Agreed!!!!
      • RE: Larry Page as Google CEO: His top 5 challenges

        @Loverock Davidson
        Yes, you can talk like that now, but it makes you look like an idiot.
        Patrick Aupperle
    • RE: Larry Page as Google CEO: His top 5 challenges

      @Loverock Davidson "or I can talk like this now which I choose to do." And be ignored...
    • RE: Larry Page as Google CEO: His top 5 challenges

      @Loverock Davidson Is attention so important that you have to say stupid things just to get noticed?

      Annoying, childish comments like these offer no value to the conversation.
      Non-techie Talk
  • most important...

    fend off oracle or it will destroy android.<br>mdn said it best:<br>"And the device assemblers who got totally blindsided by Apple's iPhone and desperately turned to Google's "free" Android in a sheer panic will be the ones left holding the bag. HP and even Microsoft and maybe even RIM (we'll need to see more from them first), all of whom have their own mobile OSes in various stages of readiness, may be in stronger position to sweep up Apple's table scraps than most people seem to realize. Smart mobile device assemblers will diversify and wean themselves from relying solely on Android in order to minimize their risk. Those that don't are - *ahem* - courting disaster."
    banned from zdnet
    • RE: Larry Page as Google CEO: His top 5 challenges

      @banned from zdnet It will be interesting, but Google's application area/reputation is splotchy at best. And they have set themselves in an interesting situation. The update and release Android, but they do not implement it or control it once it's out the door. Yet, when you talk to people, despite the handset that they are using they say Google Android, despite the marketing of just "Android, or Droid". Google still gets the blame/praise. If they continue to see shoddy (just read I don't own so I'm talking out of school) support/issues/upgrades/crapware...then Google could/has get the blame? Now they have a new chief to handle 5 years will be interesting.
      • RE: Larry Page as Google CEO: His top 5 challenges

        @ItsTheBottomLine Your concerns are laughable at best. I do own one and I love it.
  • In the driver seat?

    Take a look at that car - it's the computer driven version - hands free!
    • RE: Larry Page as Google CEO: His top 5 challenges

      Is that Jerry Yang in the pic??
  • go for facebook

    Last year I read an article in a local newspaper called ?Time to unplug from Facebook? (unfortunately page is no longer available).

    That made me thinking of setting up an antifacebook site, even if it wouldn?t be named like that.

    However, no circle of friends, no chat (there are some good programs out there), no 3rd applications, no walls, no inbox (there is yahoo, gmail, etc.), no groups, and many other no's, only the friends and a diary.

    Have it as simple as possible with the main purpose to keep in touch with the friends and the 2nd one as important as the main one not to become addicted.

    I venture to make a prediction: Facebook will go the way of MySpace in fewer than 3 years.

    Google you can pull it off.

    Enough has Facebook stolen your thunder and engineers. Buy the domain (so not .com because it will not be a commercial site) and set it up based on the ideas from above, a social site only for keeping in touch.
    Have your employees join the site (kind of work obligation) and give anyone else who opens an account a Starbucks coupon for 3 coffees (for him and her/his 2 friends).

    And the avalanche will start and nothing will be able to stop it.
    • RE: Larry Page as Google CEO: His top 5 challenges

      @cynicalinvestor I hate the founder of facebook but I seriously doubt your prediction.
    • RE: Larry Page as Google CEO: His top 5 challenges

      @cynicalinvestor Facebook may be overhyped, but I don't think they are going anywhere.

      I could argue that people have less invested in a search engine than they do with a social network. That said, I think that there is room for both Google and Facebook. They solve different problems.
      Rich Miles