Posted by: Rob Hof on May 8, 2008
I’m sort of liveblogging a talk that Google honchos Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin and Larry Page is having with reporters before the company’s annual meeting. I’ll post their comments in chunks as it goes along… and clean it up later.
As you can probably see from the comments, the key takeaway from the press session was that Google is pretty happy with the Microsoft-Yahoo deal falling apart. The trio declined to indicate whether a Google deal with Yahoo would happen, but their wording didn’t seem to indicate the deal had cooled, as some coverage the last couple of days indicated.
Schmidt also said that new YouTube advertising would roll out in coming months, but wasn’t specific beyond saying they would not be pre-roll or post-roll but instead would be ad units of some kind around the whole page.
Slightly cleaned-up liveblogged notes after the jump:
What about the possible deal for Yahoo to run Google ads? Brin: We’ve been talking with Yahoo. We’re very excited to work with them. We don’t have any particular deal to announce. We were a big partner of Yahoo’s a few years back when we ran their search for them. It’s great to be working with them again. We share a lot culturewise with Yahoo. a lot of shared values.
So will there be a deal? We certainly aim to work as closely as we can.
AdSense is very open. We don’t tend to hold people to long-term exclusives.
On the test of AdSense ads on Yahoo: We had a really good dynamic. The technical teams got along very well. They were able to gain a lot of insights. In terms of getting something so exciting so quickly … that was exciting for this.
Was Google trying to scuttle the Microsoft-Yahoo deal? Certainly a Valley company like Yahoo we want to make sure they have a choice.
How do advertisers feel about hooking up with Yahoo? Generally, what we’ve seen in the past when we’ve done substantial expansions of our network… advertisers have really benefited. They have been able to get greater reach for their target ads at a greater ROI.
Page: Some advertisers surprised and happy their ads were showing up on Yahoo. … these are auctions, so we’re not setting the price.
Schmidt: Advertising platforms don’t solve a single solution like operating system platforms. They (advertisers) always use more than one. Don’t map platform economics to advertising economics.
Page: Online advertising is still a pretty small percentage of overall advertising. And Yahoo is still very strong in display advertising. And there are also a lot of technological innovations in advertising. So I’d expect this to be a very rapidly moving space.
Schmidt: Advertisers advertise in order to get more customers. You’re always going to have multiple advertisers and multiple platforms.
Prospect for a Google deal with Yahoo or another large portal? Schmidt: This is a more mature model for the computer industry: coopetition. So in our case, for example, Yahoo is using OpenSocial.
Do you see Microsoft as a potent competitor alone? Schmidt: Microsoft is a very large competitor across all facets of Google for many reasons. Applications. Search. Advertising, display. Microsoft is well-funded, clever, smart, and they have a lot of advantages nobody else has.
On a Yahoo deal, Schmidt: would expect to structure it to avoid antitrust concerns. … We have had a brilliant test. Brin: From an antitrust point of view… you guys are narrowly focused on search advertising. The market is much bigger, overall advertising. … Page: If you look at the history of MSN, a lot of the traffic has come from bundling it with its browser. So there’s a lot of complicated issues here.
How do you think about the broader issues of reputation, beyond antitrust: Schmidt: We believe fundamentally these concerns are addressed by end-user products and attitudes: not trapping data… giving customers choices…
What does it mean for your business that the Microsoft-Yahoo deal didn’t go through? Schmidt: refers to blog post about Google's concerns about the extreme market share in some areas. It would in fact be bad for the Internet. Obviously we’re happy it didn’t happen. … not focused on competition, more focused on innovation… This is not a race to whatever anybody else did in the past. Had the merger gone through, we would actually have had to have a meeting about it… have a campaign against the merger.
Is it over? Schmidt: You never say never in this business.
Were you surprised Microsoft walked away? Schmidt: Everybody was surprised.
What will Microsoft do? Page: We’re trying to do the new stuff. It makes sense for companies to do different things.
When did you start to see Microsoft as a competitor? Schmidt: Microsoft has been a significant competitor with Google for a long time.
Are you the big winner after the deal failure? Schmidt: This is not about winning at least in the short term. … It’s a good lesson for businesses that it’s very easy to go off the rails if you get distracted.
Why did Google invest in Clearwire? Page: Having more competition in that space is good. And having more end-user services that need high-speed.
How does Android fit in here? Brin: software very important… iPhone the prime example.
Impact of economy on Google’s business and efforts to reduce the number of clicks to improve ads: Schmidt: There’s been no change in the impact of the economy on our business. …
What do you think of ISPs limiting bandwidth? Page: This is a very important area. This is an easy way to generate censorship. The Internet’s worked pretty well by everybody cooperating. I’m very concerned to the extent people decide let’s make that ISP slow down to generate a lot of money. All of a sudden, all these services get slow and everybody doesn’t use the Internet as much. … It (would be) much harder for new companies to get established. Do you really want a world in which the next Google needs paying arrangements with companies?
What about a 250 GB cap? Brin: If it were me, I might try to have better utilization during off-peak hours. The problem with a 250GB cap is people might use it up during the day. … Page: It’s really the peak time that matters.
When will YouTube ad products be ready? Schmidt: won’t preannounce. some in development that are neither post-roll or pre-roll. next few months will roll out…
Do you think Google has lost its recruiting edge? Schmidt: No. There’s a great demand from people to come into the company. Brin: No material change in attrition rates.
Any concrete fears that led you to criticize Verizon on the 700 MHz spectrum? Schmidt: It’s important that the specific rules but the philosophy are achieved. Page: trying to make sure the rules are reasonable and make sense.
Why has it taken so long to find a replacement for CFO George Reyes: Schmidt: not that long to find a CFO. usually takes a year. Page: We’re picky. (smiles) Schmidt: Google is an unusual company to work in. … hard to find someone who can work the way we work… Google runs by consensus.
What should we expect from Android? Brin: A number of really novel things.
When do you expect to be able to build a significant display-ad business and how do you see the potential?
Schmidt: We are not the leader in display ads. We have a different way to solve the problem. We needed the DoubleClick infrastructure to get to that stage… so working on getting those technologies added and up to speed… That whole process is sort of sixish months. That then sets us up… We always want to be the most targeted.
Do you have any products that can compete with Yahoo’s AMP? Brin: not sure.
Anticipate any changes to strategy in China? Brin: I”ve always found it very hard to predict what happens in China. … plan a number of launches.
Now that the DoubleClick deal, should we expect more acquisitions that large? Schmidt: You don’t do a DoubleClick acquisition very often. You’re much better with the model we’ve had, acquiring talent and technologies. … Page: There aren’t that many large things.
R&D into renewable energy—any new developments like that in the works? Page: can’t say. We’re still very excited about the renewable energy things. looking for a leader for that group. … We still think there’s very very big opportunities.