April 15th, 2011
02:02 AM GMT
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New York (CNN) –
When Eric Schmidt announced he was stepping aside as CEO of Google he famously tweeted, “Day-to-day adult supervision no longer needed!” But investors aren’t so sure about that. In the weeks since Schmidt announced he was stepping aside as CEO, the stock has fallen 9 percent.

Larry Page, the founder and now CEO has a reputation as a brilliant innovator, a non-conformist and an introvert. Those attributes work for entrepreneurs, but often do not translate into good CEO’s.

I had a chance to sit down with Steven Levy, a veteran technology journalist who has just released a new book about Google, “In the Plex,” and asked whether Page has the ability to lead the company.

“He is a smart guy...we know he has a great vision of the future,” Levy said. “Larry has to step up not only in terms of great products, great vision, take on Facebook, but also make people feel okay about Google and not be scared of it.”

Page takes the reins at a critical time for Google. It is still making pots of money, but growth rates are not anywhere near the meteoric 40% pace of years past. Google has missed the rise of social networking. In his book, Levy details Google’s “Facebook panic,” describing how concerned they are about the vast information Facebook now controls.

Does that mean their best days over? No says Levy.

“The thing they have going for them is that Larry, in particular, looks far ahead and he is making a big bet on artificial intelligence and pushing Google's mission to the farthest definition that you could, which is gathering and making accessible all the world's information,” Levy said. “It is by no means assured. In the short term they have a big challenge in the social space with Facebook, but I think they have a shot.”

Artificial intelligence? I knew from press reports that Google was working on a driver-less car, but everyone knows Google likes to experiment with new technologies in lots of different fields. It is one of the things investors worry about – that the company is spread too thin. But Levy says that misses the point.

“Google has always been an artificial intelligence company.”

In his book Levy details how A-I is actually the secret to their superior search methods. He says they are working on something called zero query search, which will anticipate user questions. Looked at from that perspective Google’s driver-less car seems less random.

Levy may be biased from all the time he spent hanging out with Google staffers and eating all the free food (something we joked about). But he knows his technology and raises an interesting point.

The search business may be peaking, but if Google isn’t really a search company – they may still have room to surprise us.

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. usa

    Google is one bully company.
    it should be banned by all country.
    all servers of the world should prohibit the access of google.

    April 15, 2011 at 3:32 am |
  2. lrd

    Apple needs to put Google in it's place- good at search; but sucks at everything else.
    I hope Steve Jobs serves vengeance swiftly and rufously when it comes to Google.
    This earning disappointment will not only take billions off of Googles market cap; but
    I hope Steve's team takes this opportunity to really lay it heavy on these back stabbing ass*oles.

    April 15, 2011 at 3:59 am |
  3. John

    The title and the article don't ask, "What kind of company is Google, Really?" What do the do, or what kind of company? Good luck having them as a landlord! if you do! They are already a lost bureaucracy. All of the employees are so happy, that they don't know when it is okay to cross the street, When the signal is red, they go! Living in lala land... One rode a funny bike into a car! Don't get me wrong. Some nice products (do the people there turn off their cookies?) but with all of the great stuff they have, they need a reality check like King Louie did. When will this ATT of the 70s get split because of it information monopoly?

    April 15, 2011 at 4:26 am |
  4. China

    Google is one amazing company, going far beyond anything Facebook will ever achieve. As if social networking is a real achievement. Google should not only be supported by every country willing to support research outside of their own military, but the greatest minds should seek to invest their knowledge with a company that is willing to implement their ideas to better society as a whole, not help destroy it. Let's face it, "usa", your really a chinese propagandist. /sigh And, no, before anyone suggests it, I am not a Google employee or friend with benefits; I merely acknowledge their potential from a positive-conceptual point of view.

    April 15, 2011 at 4:31 am |
  5. cactus

    I think they are a communist company.

    April 15, 2011 at 4:59 am |
  6. John

    China, lets get it straight. Some products are amazing, but behind size and knowledge is control and power. We don't like that here in the USA (at least at the bottom 90% of the country). But it is what set google free, like a match for a wildfire. If they control the government (ask the city of Mountain View, California how much sales tax revenue they get from them), they are making inroads to that control. Can't live with Google, can't live without them. A commensal relationship at best? Or parasitic?

    April 15, 2011 at 5:03 am |
  7. Oladipo Akinyemi Omole

    Maggie Darling,
    It's also quite pleasant to see you're all celebrating the birth of THE TUBE in China with Richard Quest.IT'S QUITE REMARKABLE . CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN. Thanks Darling and express my profound regards to the entire network.Everybody.
    From me,

    April 15, 2011 at 5:21 am |
  8. fuckamericun

    Google is a company self claimed EVIL FREE.

    April 15, 2011 at 6:10 am |
  9. scott

    Let's face it, google has given us an incredible and indispensable product. Just like Facebook in social networking, the two need not compete or be compared. They are both masters at what they do

    April 15, 2011 at 8:15 am |
  10. luzalbe

    .to be honest, i don't think anyone could survive without google. we should be thankful that google is offering their services for free....unlike some websites. why blame google for the misuse of information by some imbeciles? i mean seriously? google has gone way beyond the status quo.....and i admire the company for that.

    April 15, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  11. Advisor

    Love it or hate it... Google is a good company. It has made a huge impact on how search engines work. Hate the game not the player!

    April 15, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  12. james

    BS. Google is just a search companies, their algorithms are not 'AI' their a complex jungle of otherwise straightforward pieces.

    They were search, and always will be. Android is so far the only anomaly ... but giving it away for free? Just part of the search empire ....

    April 15, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  13. Faraja

    Google is an amazing company with creative people like Larry Page and others but I think in the world of business CEO'S are not born but made instead so the big challenge go to Larry, go catch a lead buddy!!

    April 15, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  14. Skeptical

    Google is an evil, intrusive company which does not believe anybody's privacy means anything. I'm surprised they haven't merged with Facebook and Zynga yet. They are bullies, they are voyeurs, and they are unabashed thieves. There is nothing good about Google and I truly hope someone manages to expose more of what they do.

    It has been famously said that the only thing which protects us from beaurocracy is its inefficiency. It's hard for most of us to be monitored and intruded upon by thought police simply because of the impracticality of collecting and collating that kind of data. Google is working as hard as they can to make it easy to monitor, track, and otherwise violate every corner of our lives, and the fact that people tolerate this is mind-boggling. From collecting your email FOREVER to collecting data about your every move from searches, browsers, apps and ads, Google is doing everything it can to make sure that your every thought, impulse, habit and interest are sold to whatever buyer wants it. Whether it's intrusive marketing, selling your web trends, or turning you over to the people so terrified of terrorists that they can't abide by anybody having independant thought, Google is there to make it happen, and make it easier.

    Think about it.

    April 15, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  15. sansan

    Google is a good company I Like!

    April 16, 2011 at 6:50 am |
  16. Jason McDonald

    I don't think Google is evil, but I do think Google has serious issues with a) innovation, and b) customer service. I teach AdWords and SEO – and in all cases my small business students are very frustrated with Google. JM Internet Group – http://www.jm-seo.org/

    April 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  17. Ajay

    Google is a company which made Internet searches so accurate .
    You can find anything & everything using google, & its one of the best employer.

    April 16, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
  18. AntiJohn

    China, lets get it straight. Some products are amazing, but behind size and knowledge is control and power. We don't like that here in the USA (at least at the bottom 90% of the country). But it is what set google free, like a match for a wildfire. If they control the government (ask the city of Mountain View, California how much sales tax revenue they get from them), they are making inroads to that control. Can't live with Google, can't live without them. A commensal relationship at best? Or parasitic?

    April 15, 2011 at 5:03 am |


    And the Americans love to control and power everything and everybody on the planet, as long as they are well off !
    Nation of shameless conceited opportunists. The world is better off without the USA.

    April 16, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  19. Shariq Islam

    i think. google and facebook both play a good role but in my opinion google is better than facebook.
    reason is that google gave us suggestions and facebook waste our time...

    April 16, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
  20. Kathy

    it's so much fun to read all this rubbish comments here made up by blind love and hate letters.

    But if people talk about "mastery" and geniuses when talking bout Google and Facebook ... that worries me. The biggest "con-stunts" are always and only possible because of the general population's ignorance and naive believes. Google and – especially "Facebook" were an accident. Folks, wake up! Besides, if there is no second, how difficult is it for you to be first and the mega huge?

    But maybe that's what the world really needs – food for the stupid and that is exactly what Google and Facebook delivers. Repetitive, senseless and meaningless content. Let everyone open their mouth without having their brain turned on and let every outspoken rubbish weight a 100% importance!

    Yeah, that is cool. Now even I can say something and become big because what I say is just as dumb as what most others would say and thus, sure they like what I say and I even can become a CYBER billionaire with that ... how cool, huh? Mum and dad – you were all so stupid running after real education. Now all we need is games, sex, social network outrage, banging barometers and all this other super dudes and tits stuff ... ah the world is an amazing zoo!

    April 17, 2011 at 4:50 am |
  21. Sanoran Triamesh

    Google was in the right time at the right place, and they are desperately trying to turn themselves into something more. For most people, who do not understand how the internet works, Google 'is' the internet. This has made Google very profitable. But as the internet matures, and people settle on their favorite sites (be it facebook or cnn or whatever), Google loses its business. Google has not 'intrinsic' content. It does not create any content, but just indexes content of others. Therefore, sooner or later, Google will be relegated to the level of a second-rate content indexer. Currently, there are more new users of the internet everyday (people are still discovering the internet), but that is eventually going to taper off. Google is an excellent indexer, but that's all they are.

    April 17, 2011 at 8:13 am |
  22. Trevor

    Google continues to do almost everything right, and they will win all the battles laid before them because they are on the right side of history, dedicated to open standards and not closed platforms. They've demolished Apple in the mobile space, they are the undisputed titans of the search market,and they will continue to win and offering amazing services that enrich and better our lives at little or no tangible cost.

    April 17, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  23. Jack C

    In 2002 google switched from a "content" relevant search to a "popularity" relevant search. No longer are you getting real results based on content but on which websites are more popular, kind of a short cut to figuring out what is good content. Google becomes the "People Magazine" of search engines.

    They also "delisted" websites that were like yellow pages, listing google ads by category, attorneys, doctors, etc. saying there wasn't enough content, while making deals with companies like godaddy to put google ads on placemarker webpages (home pages for domain names hosted at godaddy but without any content), which is exactly the reason they gave for delisting websites.

    Google reminds me of that old Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man"
    If you don't know the reference, google it

    April 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  24. Tol Trunks

    People that don't support non-agression don't use goggle. 2-3-2012

    April 19, 2011 at 1:07 am |
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