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Google's Annual Meeting: More Entertainment Than News

Posted by: Rob Hof on May 10, 2007

I didn’t hear much real news out of Google’s annual meeting, though I did catch a glimpse of former star investment banker Frank Quattrone, yukking it up with David Drummond, Google’s senior vice-president of corporate development. The main point of business was a proposal by the Office of the Comptroller of New York City, asking Google to stop doing business in China and other countries that require censorship of some search results. It went down to defeat.

It was a standing-room-only crowd, I’m guessing fewer than 300 people, in a surprisingly small room, given that I’m pretty sure Google has a much bigger auditorium. Maybe it’s a way to maintain the illusion that they’re still a small company?

The most interesting comment from Google execs was when a shareholder asked if they were worried about the increasing perception of the company as the new Microsoft. Cofounder Larry Page said it’s natural for people to be concerned. “If I wasn’t working here, I would be concerned,” he admitted. But he promised that Google wouldn’t turn out like the companies whose power people are concerned about.

Anyway, the real fun was in the shareholder questions. One woman who had just been to Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting praised Google’s food in comparison. At Berkshire, she complained, “the shares are $110,000 a share and they serve you one taco!”

A lot of folks wanted Google to split its shares to widen the potential shareholder base. But CEO Eric Schmidt said firmly there were no plans to do so, because Google hadn’t seen the price yet become a problem for most shareholders.

Another shareholder asked if there was any prospect of Google once again forging partnerships with Yahoo! like it had when it started. Schmidt’s cryptic non-answer: “There’s always hope.”

Reader Comments

Blake Southwood

May 14, 2007 2:06 AM

Google will begin to enter the true arena of
software when they begin making standalone apps
outside the realm of the web and begin competing
directly with IBM with custom software and Oracle with database software and Microsoft with off the shelf software. Right now they make half of their revenue from ads. Microsoft doesn't. Apple doesn't. IBM doesn't. They make their revenue from software and from "service" and if they read Michael Cusumano's book "The Business of Software" they will realize (like Oracle and IBM) that service is where the money is and making custom software.

In terms of Google they got initial VC of
$26M in funding.

Thus far my startup company which thus far has no funding will be selling development tools software to reduce development time and cost by 90%.

Blake Southwood
Founder of Brontosaurus Software

Claude Gelinas

May 17, 2007 8:07 PM

Larry Page is absolutely right when he says his company will never be like Microsoft because Google's first concern is with empowering their users... most of the time, for free!

The "do no evil" principle is also something Microsoft would have trouble putting its head around ; )

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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