For me, the most interesting story around right now is Google v China. It’s great to see the boys finally finding a backbone, not to mention their balls.
And maybe this shows that the boys have grown up and won’t be needing adult supervision?
That’s what Eric Schmidt said he would do, ‘adult supervision,’ when he was brought in in 2001, as CEO to help prep the GOOG IPO. The founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, agreed to a triumvirate in which they would share control with Schmidt.
But now, nine years later, it’s got to be a bit embarrassing to still be under ‘adult supervision.’ These are seasoned executives by now.
Also, the ‘adult supervision’ doesn’t seem very effective.
Veteran Forbes reporter Elizabeth Corcoran, has written that Schmidt
…has defined his job not so much as leading Google but as running interference for it–placating the investment community, soothing nervous regulators and policymakers and doing whatever it takes to create a magical force field protecting Googleteers…
If that’s the case, Schmidt’s abilities to run interference appear to be on an extended leave of absence. Take a look at some of the jams Google has gotten itself into:
- Despite Schmidt’s outspoken support for President Obama before the elections, he hasn’t managed to win much favor from the administration – he funded a lot of Republicans, take a look here – Google is under a ton of scrutiny for potential anti-trust activities.
- Google has run into big problems internationally with its books scanning project and Mr Schmidt’s attempts to calm the waters have failed repeatedly with lawsuits from many countries.
- Despite Schmidt’s repeated attempts to reach out to newspapers and have them partner with Google, the opposite has happened. The newspaper industry sees Google as an adversary rather than an ally.
- Google’s relationship with Apple has soured badly, Schmidt was forced to resign from Apple’s board.
- He admitted in court that he persuaded Google to pay more than $1bn more than YouTube was worth. Google is still trying to figure out how make YouTube profitable.
- He persuaded Google to hang up a principled stand against Internet censorship and enter China in 2006. It’s not working out. It’s looking like an Epic Fail.
Things ain’t cooking in Schmidt’s kitchen.
I predict we’ll see an end to adult supervision at Google fairly soon. It’s like coming out of beta — GMail finally did it, so can Page and Brin.
[Tom Foremski’s web site is Silicon Valley Watcher.]