Tags: Google | Page | vision | mobile

Google CEO Sheds Light on his Vision

Wednesday, 12 Dec 2012 07:44 AM

By John Morgan

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Google CEO Larry Page, in an exclusive interview with Fortune, speculated on self-driving cars, the future of search and mobile devices and how one of the world’s most innovative companies can keep its mojo in an ever-evolving digital world.

Page, widely noted for his reluctance to talk to the media, said he thinks about rival technology companies — somewhat. “But I feel my job is mostly getting people not to think about our competition,” he said.

“In general I think there’s a tendency for people to think about the things that exist. Our job is to think of the thing you haven’t thought of yet that you really need.”

Editor's Note: The IRS’ Worst Nightmare — How to Pay Zero Taxes

One big thing Google is thinking about that does not yet exist is self-driving cars, a futuristic notion that could give pause to Google investors who worry about research and development costs.

Page told Fortune that social and economic good could come from the advent of self-driving cars, not to mention profitable advances in transportation.

“I like it when we’re picking problems like that: big things where technology can have a really big impact. And we’re pretty sure we can do it. And whatever the technology investment we need to do that, it’s not going to be that huge compared to the payoff.”

Page said one of the areas where Google is placing its search technology emphasis is related to shopping — he wants Google’s search results to know exactly what kind of accurate data to return to the user.

In the mobile area, Page said Google’s Android operating system has been “very successful.”

“I think we’re in the early stages of monetization. The fact that a phone has a location is really helpful for monetization.”

According to Page, more cooperation with rival companies such as Apple and Amazon would benefit everyone. “The Internet was made in universities and it was designed to interoperate. And as we’ve commercialized it, we’ve added more of an island-like approach to it, which I think is somewhat a shame for users.”

As for the future, Page said Google has developed capabilities in payment systems that are not yet widely recognized. Google has expertise in accepting payments from “users in many, many countries, wireless, carrier billing and all sorts of other forms of payment.”

His personal report card on his performance as CEO? “We’re still 1 percent to where we should be. I feel a deep sense of responsibility to try to move things along. Not enough people are focused on big change,” Page told Fortune.

Bloomberg reported that the company avoided about $2 billion in worldwide income taxes in 2011 by shifting $9.8 billion in revenues into a Bermuda shell company, nearly twice the amount from three years earlier.

By legally moving profits from overseas subsidiaries to Bermuda, which doesn’t have a corporate income tax, Google cut its overall tax rate almost in half, Bloomberg said. The amount routed to Bermuda is equal to about 80 percent of Google’s total pretax profit in 2011.

For the third quarter, Google’s results fell well short of analysts’ expectations, according to Reuters, mostly because its core advertising business slowed.

Editor's Note: The IRS’ Worst Nightmare — How to Pay Zero Taxes

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