It's official. Google cofounder Larry Page has taken back the CEO reins from Eric Schmidt. And on his first day back on the job, he spent $900 million.
Schmidt announced in January that he would step down as Google's CEO. He is now serving as chairman and will focus on deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach, and technology thought leadership. The 38-year-old Page, meanwhile, will take on day-to-day management of the company.
Google is a much different company than when Page was last CEO. Over the past decade, and largely under Schmidt's leadership, Google has entered the public market and built up to a $190 billion company with about 25,000 employees.
Buying Nortel's IP
Will Page change Google's strategy in the face of mounting competition from Facebook and Apple? How will the young leader navigate legal challenges, especially from the European Union? Microsoft just last week filed a complaint with the EU to support antitrust claims against its online rival.
There are many unknowns, but one thing is certain: Page is taking over the CEO position with a splash. He spent $900 million on Nortel Networks patents to build up the firm's mutual-destruction defense strategy in an increasingly litigious technology world.
"The patent system should reward those who create the most useful innovations for society, not those who stake bogus claims or file dubious lawsuits," said Kent Walker, senior vice president and general counsel at Google. "It's for these reasons that Google has long argued in favor of real patent reform, which we believe will benefit users and the U.S. economy as a whole."
Walker said one of the best defenses against patent litigation is to have a formidable patent portfolio. As a relatively young company, Google's patent portfolio doesn't stack up to large tech companies like Microsoft and IBM.
"Today, Nortel selected our bid as the 'stalking-horse bid,' which is the starting point against which others will bid prior to the auction," Walker said. "If successful, we hope this portfolio will not only create a disincentive for others to sue Google, but also help us, our partners, and the open-source community -- which is integrally involved in projects like Android and Chrome -- continue to innovate."
Page's Aggressive Attitude
The $900 million might have been bid regardless of Page's new role. However, it may symbolize a new more aggressive attitude in certain areas that some associate with Page, according to Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence.
"It remains to be seen how he'll pilot Google during this critical period as the company faces legal and competitive challenges. On balance, it's probably positive for Google because it will energize most of the rank-and-file Google employees," Sterling said.
"Schmidt will still be around when needed as a spokesperson for the company, unless he's nominated for the position of commerce secretary. So in the immediate future, not that much will change from the outside."
Posted: 2011-04-08 @ 11:56am PT
Page could have gotten his bloody horse for much less then $900 mln.
Why didn't he?!
Posted: 2011-04-04 @ 4:32pm PT
Google has, in the past year, acquired the technology for a mental search product that will allow users to generate search queries by thought. Some of this technology intersects with the intellectual property Nortel holds, and so Google is snatching it up so that there will be no problems later. (Of course, Nortel has no knowledge of Google's intentions.)
Page is not returning to the role of CEO to mark an end to his prepubescence: he is doing so because of the potential of this technology to make Google monolithic, and he and Brin would like to be seen together when the product is unveiled.