Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Liveblogging Google's Earnings Call: Où Est Eric?

BoomTown liveblogged Google’s earnings call this afternoon.

Earlier today, Google (GOOG) beat Wall Street’s expectations in its first-quarter earnings, signaling that online advertising spending is back on track.

Here we go:

1:30 pm PT: Investor lady went over investor stuff. Zzzz.

1:33 pm: First up: Patrick Pichette, CFO of Google, whose delightful French accent livened up what was an almost entirely newsless event.

In fact, it turned out that the biggest news was changes in how Google presents its earnings calls going forward: No more CEO Eric Schmidt!

Instead, it will be Pichette from here on out, along with sidekick and head products dude Jonathan Rosenberg. Who was not around today, so top Google execs Susan Wojcicki and Jeff Huber filled in.

Also making an appearance, Nikesh Arora, president of Global Sales Operations and Business Development.

Thus, a parade of Google execs replaced Schmidt–all of whom said as little as he used to!

Pichette went through the numbers–lots and lots of them.

“Very strong performance, across the board, in terms of revenue,” he concluded.

1:44 pm: Next up, Wojcicki–fun fact about the VP of Product Management: Google was started in her garage–talking about improvements to ad search results.

They are going to get fat and detailed, apparently, with all kinds of stuff attached to them.

“The idea is for them to be more useful and therefore more high performing,” she said.

In display, Wojcicki said there was “very strong momentum.” More DoubleClick integration, more analytics.

Mobile: “Doing very well.” (I look forward to the first analyst question about its regulatory approval problem with Google’s $750 million AdMob acquisition.)

There will be an ability to “call through” on ads in smartphones, which sounds kind of cool.

1:51 pm: Next, it was Huber’s turn. He is SVP of Engineering.

He started with mobile and geolocation features Google is working on, some of which sounded a bit stalkerish. To the all-seeing eye of Google, they are fabulous, of course.

Its Android and Chrome operating systems are growing, Huber said, noting that there are now 34 Android devices.

Take that, Apple!–which has but one (which is doing pretty well on its own, Huber declined to add).

1:55 pm: Arora joined the call with the others for Q&A.

Questions about international advertising. All was well, said both Pichette and Arora.

Next question was about the percentage of revenue from enterprise and mobile. Also what up with Nexus One?

Pichette was not saying, of course, as that information would be useful.

Also no data on the profits of Nexus one, which Pichette noted was indeed profitable. But Google wasn’t saying how much! More non-news.

Finally, a good question about whether Google will remain on Apple (AAPL) products–given growing corporate rivalry between the two–and why the heck Schmidt is not on the call anymore and whether there is more to it.

Pichette became slightly agitated about the CEO question.

Eric has been everywhere! Abu Dhabi! Washington, D.C.! Jetting around on the GooglePlane like it was nobody’s business!

“It does not mean that Eric is not available,” said Pichette, explaining that the move is simply a question of “streamlining.”

Huber declined to comment about Apple, of course!

But, blood in the water: What’s up with Facebook competition?

This is a true oucher for Google internally, with execs quite concerned about the social networking site’s growth, even if Huber did not admit it and called it “not a significant issue.”

Translation: It’s significant.

2:04 pm Back to the sleepy questions on marketing and how the company feels about upcoming quarters compared with previous ones.

Hey, the colorful letters of Google and Googley goodness are just not cutting it anymore! You need some pretty ads! You have to promote! After all, Google has actual products now, like the Nexus One.

The next questions were on the number of Nexus One phones sold and, finally, on China.

Huber was not disclosing! If there were a badillion devices sold, you know he would, of course.

Pichette took the China question.

“This was a tough situation, but we really think we made the right decision,” he said, noting that the company is kind of still in China from Hong Kong.

Well, not really, but it was the right decision.

2:10 pm: Another good question on the News Corp. (NWS) deal and the AdMob situation.

Pichette pointed out the the mobile ad market is “nascent,” naturally noting that Apple announced its recently announced iAd network.

In other words, let’s keep pointing to what Apple is up to to save our bacon with the government.

“Google wants every partner,” said Pichette about renewing the deal over MySpace, but added that economics have changed since the first one was done with the then-hot-and-now-not social networking site.

Translation: Don’t expect a big check, Rupert Murdoch!

More in-the-weeds questions, which provided some insight, but not much.

2:28 pm: Another China question about whether serving its results from Hong Kong is sustainable.

Yes, said Pichette.

More about search advertising innovations and targeting. Google is all over it, said Wojcicki in many, many, many more words.

This line of questioning continued until someone asked whether the reported tensions between Schmidt and co-founder Sergey Brin over China are behind his absence.

Juicy, but completely ridonkulous.

Non,” laughed Pichette, answering in a jaunty way.

The lack of Schmidt, he added, was not a negative, but part of a review of stuff Google could do better. In fact, it was an innovation!

Mais oui or mais non, it was the most interesting news of the day.


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