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Making Google Less Creepy

5:30 AM -- I was thinking Thursday afternoon that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) might be fortunate in not having Eric Schmidt as the face of the company any more. (See Google Does the Executive Shuffle.)

Maybe that was even the reason for moving him to the chairman's role, taking him out of the day-to-day spotlight. I don't know how well Larry Page will do with the PR aspect of being a CEO, but he's probably learned not to say things like, "Streetview, we drive exactly once. So you can just move."

Schmidt has become known for quotes like that, quotes that seem to suggest technology is always right and therefore trumps trivialities like your privacy. Now, I don't think Schmidt believes that. It's more that his dry, flip way of speaking makes some jokes -- and I do think the Streetview comment was meant to be a joke -- appear more like threats. In print, he comes across like a science-fiction villain. For a CEO, that's a problem.

Anyway, that's what I was thinking, in the instants after seeing Google's announcement.

But then I saw that Schmidt's new job will include government outreach.

Really? Does that mean Schmidt is going to be the one explaining to the government why Google, whose policy is to "get right up to the creepy line," is benevolent? Oh, that should be good.

(Quotes were lifted from John Paczkowski's Schmidt retrospective published Thursday on All Things D. It's a nice, creepy read.)

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:14:55 PM
re: Making Google Less Creepy

The best explanation I've read is that this was started with the Google debate about what to do with China. Ken Auletta at The New Yorker:


Exascerbating that fight was the fact that despite this "triumverate" setup, Schmidt was just not ever going to be part of Serge and Larry's inner circle, not really.  Harvard Business Review:


The bigger issue, though, is whether Larry Page can really be public face of Google. If you're CEO at a place like that, then your job is partly a media job -- and Page's demeanor, from what I've seen, doesn't come across well in the media.

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