Google CEO reflects on past year in rare dispatch

Associated Press + More

By MICHAEL LIEDTKE, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Now that he has been Google's CEO for a year, Larry Page may be ready to tackle some of the public-relations duties that typically accompany the job.

Page opened up in a way that he hasn't previously with a Thursday dispatch that shared some of his thoughts about Google's past accomplishments and future possibilities.

The post appeared on the company's website for investors and Page's personal profile on Google Plus, a social networking service that has become Page's pet project as he scrambles to counter the threat posed by Facebook's growing popularity.

"When I post publicly I get a ton of high quality comments, which makes me happy and encourages me to keep posting," Page wrote in Thursday's essay.

The usually taciturn Page may feel compelled to speak out more frequently during the next year as Google defends itself against loudening complaints about its business and privacy practices. Some of the concerns are being investigated by regulators in the U.S. and Europe.

Although he didn't mention those investigations or invoke Google's "Don't Be Evil" motto, Page used part of his post to emphasize his intentions to run the Internet search leader in an endearing way.

"We have always wanted Google to be a company that is deserving of great love," Page wrote. "But we recognize this is an ambitious goal because most large companies are not well-loved, or even seemingly set up with that in mind."

Page closed his note by promising to maintain "a healthy disregard for the impossible" as Google tries to develop new products to improve people's lives. He mentioned Google's ongoing work on driverless cars and pointed out that things people used to believe impossible — such as instant digital maps — are now a fundamental part of online life.

"We will enable you to do truly amazing things that change the world," Page wrote. "It's a very exciting time to be at Google, and I take the responsibility I have to all of you very seriously."

The post came a day after Page, 39, marked the one-year anniversary of his second stint as Google's chief executive. He was CEO during the first three years of Google's existence, but surrendered the role to a more seasoned leader, Eric Schmidt, in 2001 at the behest of the company's early investors.

Since last year's change of command, Schmidt has remained the company's executive chairman and handled much of the company's interaction with governments and media around the world.

Given the intensifying backlash to some of Google's practices, Page probably needs to be more vocal, said Steven Levy, who had inside access to the company while writing "In The Plex," a book about its history and ambitions.

Page "can't just say 'Our priority is just getting the product right and everything will fall into place,'" Levy said. "Google is a big company and it scares a lot of people. Part of Larry's job is to be a 'de-scarifier.'"

Thursday's post supplements an annual letter that Page and fellow co-founder Sergey Brin have been taking turns writing to Google's shareholders since the company went public in 2004. Since Brin wrote last year's letter, Page is supposed to handle the duties this year. The letter to investors is usually posted in April or May.

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Online:

Page's post: http://bit.ly/HZbKbs

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