Google CEO Eric Schmidt
Along with founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Eric Schmidt has built Google into a colossus that not only continues to dominate search, but now also rules Web video and advertising. Since D4 ended, he has overseen Google’s acquisition of both the top video site, YouTube, and the best-known Web banner ad-placement company, DoubleClick. So, is Google a technology company, an advertising company, a media company, or some new hybrid?
A note about our coverage: The live blog below is not an official transcript of the conversation that occurred onstage. Rather, it is a compilation of quotes, paraphrased statements and ad-lib observations expeditiously written and posted to the Web as quickly as we were able. It was not intended as a transcript and should not be interpreted as one.
- 12:20 p.m. PDT: Walt introduces Schmidt as the other bookend of the Viacom-Google lawsuit.
- Referring to Philippe Dauman’s recent comments about YouTube’s copyright issues, Walt asks if Dauman doesn’t have a point.Schmidt’s response: The Viacom lawsuit was probably a mistake.Walt: What should they have done?Schmidt: They should have waited. Had they simply waited, the tools that are in development now would have addressed most of their concerns.
Walt: Why should the onus be on Viacom to police its content on YouTube?
Schmidt: Because it’s the law.
- Walt wonders why Google hadn’t mobilized to change copyright laws. “We don’t do content,” Schmidt said, partially explaining his company’s reluctance to pursue legislation.
- Winding up for a Google phone question.
Walt: So I assume you saw Steve was flashing his iPhone around yesterday?
Not quite sure of Schmidt’s answer, but he does note that he does not own an iPhone.
Walt: But, you’re a member of Apple’s board!
Eric: I know, but I’m still waiting for mine.
- 12:25 p.m.: Walt, noting that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said yesterday that search presentation has become stagnant, wonders if Google would agree with that.Schmidt says he doesn’t think the company will move away from the simple search box. That said, he notes, personalization is becoming increasingly important. Personalization, like iGoogle, is a very powerful model that will become increasingly pervasive in the years ahead.
- 12:30 p.m.: Moving on to yesterday’s Mahalo announcement. Google’s search results aren’t as good as they used to be. With SEOs gaming Google and often succeeding, is Mahalo’s plan for human-curated search tenable?Schmidt says human editors can be approximated with algorithms.
- Does Google’s DoubleClick acquisition portend a movement away from spartan, text-based ads to more invasive display ads?Schmidt: No.
- 12:35 p.m. As we broaden our mission from an advertising perspective, Schmidt says, we want to solve the ad problem in general and bring engineering to it.
- Schmidt: “We will trade off revenue and other things in favor of end-user benefit.”
Walt: Is that the don’t-be-evil thing?
- Schmidt recalls an early meeting at Google where an engineer protested a project on the basis of it’s being evil.Walt wonders if Google’s power in the industry and control over the ad market is a good thing. Google’s growing power, he suggests, means “that you could be evil whether you say it or not.”
- 12:40 p.m.: Steve Ballmer says advertising is a core Microsoft business. Do you worry about that? Schmidt: I think you always worry about a company that controls that much of the platform market. … the advertising business is tougher than it looks, though.
- 12:55 p.m.: What are you and your team doing to ensure that Google is “built to last”? Schmidt: Companies are about culture, Schmidt says. Google has strived to create a healthy one that will ensure its longevity.
- 1 p.m.: On radio advertising: If we could get an ID on the radio in your car, we could deliver some very targeted advertising. Radio as an advertising business is undermonetized. But it’s targetable, as are television and print. Google is exploring them all.
- Is Google building a middleware platform?Google is building middleware layers, Schmidt says, as part of some of its other initiatives–phone apps, for example.