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Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Original Story:

News of the move, which is expected to be completed in the second half of 2015, sent eBay's shares 7.5% higher.

It is a reversal of strategy for the company, which has previously resisted pressure to split. However, the boss John Donahoe said the logic for running the companies jointly had changed.

PayPal's revenues are growing at 19% a year, twice as quickly as eBay's.

Its payment system is available in 203 markets worldwide and is expected to process one billion mobile payments this year.

PayPal's annual revenue is $7.2bn (£4.5bn), while eBay's is $9.9bn and is growing at 10% a year.

"A thorough strategic review... shows that keeping eBay and PayPal together beyond 2015 clearly becomes less advantageous to each business strategically and competitively," EBay's chief executive John Donahoe said.

Earlier this year the activist investor Carl Icahn began pressing for eBay to sell PayPal, a plan that was resisted by the eBay board. He stopped pushing after failing to gain enough support.

"We are happy that eBay's board and management have acted responsibly concerning the separation - perhaps a little later than they should have, but earlier than we expected," said Mr Icahn in a statement on Tuesday.

He added the separation will "meaningfully enhance value for all shareholders".

Analysts cheered the move, because it is seen as strengthening PayPal's position as more e-payment systems, such as Apple Pay and Alibaba's Alipay, enter the marketplace.

"Breaking off from eBay will provide PayPal with more autonomy to compete in the payments space, particularly with respect to Apple Pay and other emerging mobile wallet providers," wrote online advertising analytics firm eMarketer in a note.

EMarketer estimates that in the US, mobile payments using smartphones will reach $3.5bn in 2014 and then balloon to $118bn by 2018.

Leadership change
EBay bought PayPal in 2002 for $1.5bn, and the payments company is now eBay's fastest-growing business, with 143 million active users at the end of 2013, up 16% from a year earlier.

PayPal's new president and chief executive will be the current American Express co-executive Dan Schulman.

Meanwhile, Devin Wenig, currently president of eBay Marketplaces, will become the new chief executive of eBay.

Monday, September 29, 2014


Original Story:

Yahoo is making amends for years of blundering with one smart move: an early investment in China's Alibaba Group that has turned into a multibillion-dollar boon.

The latest windfall will be delivered with Alibaba's record-setting IPO completed late Thursday, which is expected raise up to $25 billion for the e-commerce company and its early backers. The company's shares will begin trading for the first time on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Yahoo is in line to make anywhere from $8.3 billion to $9.5 billion from the initial public offering, depending on whether investment bankers exercise their right to buy additional stock in the deal. The payoff supplements the $7.6 billion jackpot that Yahoo collected two years ago after selling another chunk of its Alibaba holdings and reworked a licensing agreement with the Chinese company.

Even if Yahoo ends up selling its maximum allotment of 140 million shares in the IPO, the Sunnyvale, California, company will still retain a roughly 16 percent stake in Alibaba worth another $26 billion to $27 billion.

Not a bad return, considering Yahoo acquired its Alibaba stake for $1 billion in 2005 in a deal engineered by company co-founder Jerry Yang and former CEO Terry Semel.

The Alibaba investment has helped ease the pain of Yahoo's struggles in Internet advertising, the heart of its business. Yahoo's annual revenue has slipped from a peak of $7.2 billion to projected $4.5 billion this year, a decline of nearly 40 percent.

The downturn has occurred even as advertisers steadily shift more of their budgets to the Internet and mobile devices, but most of that money is flowing to Yahoo rivals such as Google and Facebook—companies that have built more compelling digital services.

Yahoo has gone through seven different CEOs since 2006, including current leader Marissa Mayer, trying to figure out how to rejuvenate its growth.

Wall Street's exasperation with Yahoo's financial malaise caused the company's stock to sink below $9 in late 2008. The company's stock is now hovering around $43, a level that hasn't been touched since 2006. Most of the comeback occurred during the last two years as investors latched on to Yahoo's stock to profit from Alibaba's success leading up to the IPO.

Yahoo now must decide what to do with the money that will pour in from Alibaba's IPO. Mayer has promised that at least half the amount, after taxes, will be returned to shareholders through dividends or, more likely, buying back stock. That leaves open the possibility that Yahoo might use the rest of the money from the Alibaba IPO to help finance an acquisition of another Internet company such as AOL or a hot startup such as social media company Pinterest in its latest attempt to revive its business.


Original Story:

Activist investor Starboard Value sent a letter to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer on Friday listing several opportunities to increase shareholder value and recommended that it merge with AOL.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer acknowledged the letter Friday evening.

"As part of our regular evaluation of Yahoo's strategic initiatives to drive sustainable shareholder value, we will review Starboard's letter carefully and look forward to discussing it with them," she said, in a statement.

Starboard, which recently went after Darden for wasting money at its Olive Garden restaurants, said a tie-up between Yahoo and AOL could "offer synergies of up to $1 billion" and reduce corporate overhead cost.

Starboard said it had acquired a significant stake in Yahoo, adding that a possible AOL deal, along with other recommendations, would unlock tremendous value for shareholders.
AOL shares jumped as much as 6 percent after the news before easing, while Yahoo rose about 4 percent.

"[W]e believe a merger of AOL and Yahoo's core business may be one of the best ways to both fully seize the cost reduction opportunity and also to tax efficiently monetize Yahoo's noncore equity holdings," the letter said.

Starboard said the deal could help the companies navigate the ongoing industry changes, such as the growth of programmatic advertising and migration to mobile.

The letter, which was signed by Starboard CEO Jeffrey Smith, described Yahoo as "deeply undervalued relative to the sum of its parts" and said the company must take immediate steps to "remedy this valuation discrepancy."

Starboard pointed to a valuation gap of about $11 billion.

"The core problem for Yahoo, outside of Alibaba, is they don't really have an exciting story," said Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray. "If they could use acquisitions as a way to drum up some excitement in a longer-term business I think that most investors would look upon that favorably."

Munster, who has a $48 share price target on the stock, said a potential AOL acquisition would add to Yahoo's financial value, but it wouldn't solve Yahoo's core issue: user growth. "AOL is a fading giant as is Yahoo ... the combination of that doesn't add excitement that new users are going to come to," he said.

Instead he said he believes Yahoo should should explore acquiring "something on the content angle."

While the proposed tie-up with AOL may not be "sexy," there are a lot of reasons to think a combined company would work, said Colin Gillis, analyst at BGC Partners.

For one thing, AOL would bring original video and original content that Yahoo has been openly seeking, Gillis said.

There's enough overlap that possibly significant cost savings could be found. And Yahoo clearly needs help gaining market share in the "raging bull market for online advertising," Gillis said.
Yahoo currently has a market valuation of $40 billion, in comparison to industry leader Google's nearly $200 billion market cap.

This is not the company's first encounter with a high-profile hedge fund. In 2012, activist investor Daniel Loeb sent a letter to Yahoo's board demanding that its then-CEO Scott Thompson be fired.

Loeb was a primary player in recruiting Mayer as Thompson's successor, but the two reportedly had major differences in opinion about Yahoo's strategy going forward, which eventually lead to Loeb's departure from the board, the New York Post reported last year.

AOL declined to discuss the matter, while Yahoo did not respond to CNBC's request for comment.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Original Story:

On October 31, 2006, an eighteen-year-old woman named Nikki Catsouras slammed her father’s sports car into the side of a concrete toll booth in Orange County, California. Catsouras was decapitated in the accident. The California Highway Patrol, following standard protocol, secured the scene and took photographs. The manner of death was so horrific that the local coroner did not allow Nikki’s parents to identify her body.

 “About two weeks after the accident, I got a call from my brother-in-law,” Christos Catsouras, Nikki’s father, told me. “He said he had heard from a neighbor that the photos from the crash were circulating on the Internet. We asked the C.H.P., and they said they would look into it.” In short order, two employees admitted that they had shared the photographs. As summarized in a later court filing, the employees had “e-mailed nine gruesome death images to their friends and family members on Halloween—for pure shock value. Once received, the photographs were forwarded to others, and thus spread across the Internet like a malignant firestorm, popping up on thousands of Web sites.”

Already bereft of his eldest daughter, Catsouras told his three other girls that they couldn’t look at the Internet. “But, other than that, people told me there was nothing I could do,” he recalled. “They said, ‘Don’t worry. It’ll blow over.’ ” Nevertheless, Catsouras embarked on a modern legal quest: to remove information from the Internet. In recent years, many people have made the same kind of effort, from actors who don’t want their private photographs in broad circulation to ex-convicts who don’t want their long-ago legal troubles to prevent them from finding jobs. Despite the varied circumstances, all these people want something that does not exist in the United States: the right to be forgotten.

The situation is different in Europe, thanks to a court case that was decided earlier this year. In 1998, a Spanish newspaper called La Vanguardia published two small notices stating that certain property owned by a lawyer named Mario Costeja González was going to be auctioned to pay off his debts. Costeja cleared up the financial difficulties, but the newspaper records continued to surface whenever anyone Googled his name. In 2010, Costeja went to Spanish authorities to demand that the newspaper remove the items from its Web site and that Google remove the links from searches for his name. The Spanish Data Protection Agency, which is the local representative of a Continent-wide network of computer-privacy regulators, denied the claim against La Vanguardia but granted the claim against Google. This spring, the European Court of Justice, which operates as a kind of Supreme Court for the twenty-eight members of the European Union, affirmed the Spanish agency’s decisions. La Vanguardia could leave the Costeja items up on its Web site, but Google was prohibited from linking to them on any searches relating to Costeja’s name. The Court went on to say, in a broadly worded directive, that all individuals in the countries within its jurisdiction had the right to prohibit Google from linking to items that were “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed and in the light of the time that has elapsed.”

The consequences of the Court’s decision are just beginning to be understood. Google has fielded about a hundred and twenty thousand requests for deletions and granted roughly half of them. Other search engines that provide service in Europe, like Microsoft’s Bing, have set up similar systems. Public reaction to the decision, especially in the United States and Great Britain, has been largely critical. An editorial in the New York Times declared that it “could undermine press freedoms and freedom of speech.” The risk, according to the Times and others, is that aggrieved individuals could use the decision to hide or suppress information of public importance, including links about elected officials. A recent report by a committee of the House of Lords called the decision “misguided in principle and unworkable in practice.”

Jules Polonetsky, the executive director of the Future of Privacy Forum, a think tank in Washington, was more vocal. “The decision will go down in history as one of the most significant mistakes that Court has ever made,” he said. “It gives very little value to free expression. If a particular Web site is doing something illegal, that should be stopped, and Google shouldn’t link to it. But for the Court to outsource to Google complicated case-specific decisions about whether to publish or suppress something is wrong. Requiring Google to be a court of philosopher kings shows a real lack of understanding about how this will play out in reality.”

At the same time, the Court’s decision spoke to an anxiety felt keenly on both sides of the Atlantic. In Europe, the right to privacy trumps freedom of speech; the reverse is true in the United States. “Europeans think of the right to privacy as a fundamental human right, in the way that we think of freedom of expression or the right to counsel,” Jennifer Granick, the director of civil liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, said recently. “When it comes to privacy, the United States’ approach has been to provide protection for certain categories of information that are deemed sensitive and then impose some obligation not to disclose unless certain conditions are met.” Congress has passed laws prohibiting the disclosure of medical information (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), educational records (the Buckley Amendment), and video-store rentals (a law passed in response to revelations about Robert Bork’s rentals when he was nominated to the Supreme Court). Any of these protections can be overridden with the consent of the individual or as part of law-enforcement investigations.

The American regard for freedom of speech, reflected in the First Amendment, guarantees that the Costeja judgment would never pass muster under U.S. law. The Costeja records were public, and they were reported correctly by the newspaper at the time; constitutionally, the press has a nearly absolute right to publish accurate, lawful information. (Recently, an attorney in Texas, who had successfully fought a disciplinary judgment by the local bar association, persuaded a trial court to order Google to delete links on the subject; Google won a reversal in an appellate court.) “The Costeja decision is clearly inconsistent with U.S. law,” Granick said. “So the question is whether it’s good policy.”

One of the intellectual godfathers of the right to be forgotten is Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, a forty-eight-year-old professor at Oxford. Mayer-Schönberger grew up in rural Austria, where his father, a tax lawyer, bought a primitive modem for the family in the early nineteen-eighties. Viktor became active on computer bulletin boards, and he wrote an early anti-virus program, which he sold when he was in his twenties. “My father indulged my interest in computers, but he really wanted me to take over his law practice,” Mayer-Schönberger told me. He went to Harvard Law School. His early experience with computers, combined with his anti-virus business, prompted his interest in the law of data protection.

“The roots of European data protection come from the bloody history of the twentieth century,” Mayer-Schönberger said. “The Communists fought the Nazis with an ideology based on humanism, hoping that they could bring about a more just and fair society. And what did it look like? It turned into the same totalitarian surveillance society. With the Stasi, in East Germany, the task of capturing information and using it to further the power of the state is reintroduced and perfected by the society. So we had two radical ideologies, Fascism and Communism, and both end up with absolutely shockingly tight surveillance states.”

Following the fall of Communism, in 1989, the new democracies rewrote their laws to put in place rules intended to prevent the recurrence of these kinds of abuses. In subsequent years, the E.U. has promulgated a detailed series of laws designed to protect privacy. According to Mayer-Schönberger, “There was a pervasive belief that we can’t trust anybody—not the state, not a company—to keep to its own role and protect the rights of the individual.”

In 2009, Mayer-Schönberger published a book entitled “Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age.” In it, he asserts that the European postwar, post-Wall concerns about privacy are even more relevant with the advent of the Internet. The Stasi kept its records on paper and film in file cabinets; the material was difficult to locate and retrieve. But digitization and cheap online storage make it easier to remember than to forget, shifting our “behavioral default,” Mayer-Schönberger explained. Storage in the Cloud has made information even more durable and retrievable.

Mayer-Schönberger said that Google, whose market share for Internet searches in Europe is around ninety per cent, does not make sinister use of the information at its disposal. But in “Delete” he describes how, in the nineteen-thirties, the Dutch government maintained a comprehensive population registry, which included the name, address, and religion of every citizen. At the time, he writes, “the registry was hailed as facilitating government administration and improving welfare planning.” But when the Nazis invaded Holland they used the registry to track down Jews and Gypsies. “We may feel safe living in democratic republics, but so did the Dutch,” he said. “We do not know what the future holds in store for us, and whether future governments will honor the trust we put in them to protect information privacy rights.”

Without a right to be forgotten in American law, the Catsouras family had no means of forcing Google to stop linking to the photographs. “We knew people were finding the photos by Googling Nikki’s name or just ‘decapitated girl,’ but there was nothing we could do about it,” Keith Bremer, the family’s lawyer, told me. As an interim measure, Catsouras enlisted the help of Michael Fertik, who at the time had just founded, a company that tries to manipulate the results of Google’s search algorithm by seeding additional information on the Web. In this way, the less desirable links appear much lower in a Google search. Fertik also helped the family ask Web sites to take down the photos; many did. “We got the photos off at least two thousand Web sites,” Fertik told me. But they are still easy to find.

Convicted criminals who want to escape the taint of their records are also out of luck when it comes to petitioning Google. “Somewhere between sixty and a hundred million people in the United States have criminal records, and that’s just counting actual convictions,” Sharon Dietrich, the litigation director of Community Legal Services, in Philadelphia, told me. “The consequences of having a criminal record are onerous and getting worse all the time, because of the Web.” Dietrich and others have joined in what has become known as the expungement movement, which calls for many criminal convictions to be sealed or set aside after a given period of time. Around thirty states currently allow some version of expungement. Dietrich and her allies have focussed on trying to cleanse records from the databases maintained by commercial background-check companies. But Google would remain a problem even if the law were changed. “Back in the day, criminal records kind of faded away over time,” Dietrich said. “They existed, but you couldn’t find them. Nothing fades away anymore. I have a client who says he has a harder time finding a job now than he did when he got out of jail, thirty years ago.”

In the effort to escape unwanted attention on the Internet, individuals and companies have had success with one weapon: copyright law. It is unlawful to post photographs or other copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder. “I needed to get ownership of the photos,” Bremer, the Catsouras family’s lawyer, told me. So he began a lengthy negotiation with the California Highway Patrol to persuade it to surrender copyright on the photographs. In the end, though, the C.H.P. would not make the deal.

Other victims of viral Internet trauma have fared better with the copyright approach. In August, racy private photographs of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and other celebrities were leaked to several Web sites. (The source of the leaks has not been identified.) Google has long had a system in place to block copyrighted material from turning up in its searches. Motion-picture companies, among others, regularly complain about copyright infringement on YouTube, which Google owns, and Google has a process for identifying and removing these links. Several of the leaked photographs were selfies, so the women themselves owned the copyrights; friends had taken the other pictures. Lawyers for one of the women established copyrights for all the photographs they could, and then went to sites that had posted the pictures, and to Google, and insisted that the material be removed. Google complied, as did many of the sites, and now the photographs are difficult to find on the Internet, though they have not disappeared. “For the most part, the world goes through search engines,” one lawyer involved in the effort to limit the distribution of the photographs told me. “Now it’s like a tree falling in the forest. There may be links out there, but if you can’t find them through a search engine they might as well not exist.”

The European Court’s decision placed Google in an uncomfortable position. “We like to think of ourselves as the newsstand, or a card catalogue,” Kent Walker, the general counsel of Google, told me when I visited the company’s headquarters, in Mountain View, California. “We don’t create the information. We make it accessible. A decision like this, which makes us decide what goes inside the card catalogue, forces us into a role we don’t want.” Several other people at Google explained their frustration the same way, by arguing that Google is a mere intermediary between reader and publisher. The company wanted nothing to do with the business of regulating content.

Yet the notion of Google as a passive intermediary in the modern information economy is dubious. “The ‘card catalogue’ metaphor is wildly misleading,” Marc Rotenberg, the president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, in Washington, D.C., told me. “Google is no longer the card catalogue. It is the library—and it’s the bookstore and the newsstand. They have all collapsed into Google’s realm.” Many supporters of the Court’s decision see it, at least in part, as a vehicle for addressing Google’s enormous power. “I think it was a great decision, a forward-looking decision, which actually strengthens press freedoms,” Rotenberg said. “The Court said to Google, ‘If you are going to be in this business of search, you are going to take on some privacy obligations.’ It didn’t say that to journalistic institutions. These journalistic institutions have their own Web sites and seek out their own readers.”

Google doesn’t publish its own material, but the Court decision recognized that the results of a Google search often matter more than the information on any individual Web site. The private sector made this discovery several years ago. Michael Fertik, the founder of, also supports the existence of a right to be forgotten that is enforceable against Google. “This is not about free speech; it’s about privacy and dignity,” he told me. “For the first time, dignity will get the same treatment in law as copyright and trademark do in America. If Sony or Disney wants fifty thousand videos removed from YouTube, Google removes them with no questions asked. If your daughter is caught kissing someone on a cell-phone home video, you have no option of getting it down. That’s wrong. The priorities are backward.”

To see how Google’s system for complying with the Court’s decision worked, I spoke with David Price, a thirty-three-year-old lawyer for the company, in a conference room at Google headquarters. Price wore the unofficial uniform of the Googleplex: bluejeans, an untucked button-down shirt, and a cheerful demeanor. “After the decision, we all made frowny faces, but then we got down to work,” he said.

The job had two parts. The first was technical—that is, creating a software infrastructure so that links could be removed. This was not especially difficult, since Google could apply the system already in place for copyrighted and trademarked works. Similarly, Google had already blocked links that might have led to certain dangerous or unlawful activity, like malware or child pornography.

“The second issue was bigger,” Price explained. “We had to create an administrative system to intake the requests and then act on them.” The company designed a form that was accessible through the search pages for the countries covered by the decision. The form is now available in twenty-five languages. German users can find it at, Spanish users at (It cannot be accessed directly through, the search page in the United States.) To file a claim, individuals are required to give their name—anonymous requests are not allowed—and provide the links to which they object. (Most applicants have submitted about four links each.) Petitioners are also required to provide “an explanation of why the inclusion of that result in search results is irrelevant, outdated, or otherwise objectionable,” according to the request instructions posted online. If it grants a request, Google then sends a notice to the Webmaster for the site hosting the links in question. This allows the publishers of that site to make their case for keeping the link as a search result.

To decide whether to remove the disputed links from its searches, Google has assembled dozens of lawyers, paralegals, and others to review the submissions. Price meets with the group twice a week to discuss its decisions and to try to maintain consistent standards. The main considerations are whether the individual is a public or a private figure; whether the link comes from a reputable news source or government Web site; whether it was the individual who originally published the information; and whether the information relates to political speech or criminal charges. Because the Court’s decision specifically said that a relevant factor should be “the role played by the data subject in public life,” Google is reluctant to exclude links about politicians and other prominent people. “There are hard calls,” Price told me.

Google has not released its decisions in any individual cases. But the company did tell me about some of its decisions in a way that disguises the parties involved. For example, Google agreed to what it termed a “request to remove an old document posted in an online group conversation that the requestor started,” and a “request to remove five-year-old stories about exoneration in a child porn case.” The company rejected a request from a “news outlet to remove content about it from another news outlet”; a “request from a public official to remove a news article about child pornography accusations”; and a “request for removal of a news article about a child abuse scandal, which resulted in a conviction.” The company declined, for the time being, to remove a 2013 link to a report of an acquittal in a criminal case, on the ground that it was very recent. Google also declined a request by a writer to remove links to his own work, on the ground that the articles were recent and deliberately made public by the author.

There have been controversies. Earlier this summer, the BBC received a notice that Google was deleting links to a blog post about Stanley O’Neal, the former chief executive of Merrill Lynch. Robert Peston, the BBC’s economics editor and the author of the post, wrote an indignant response, titled “Why Has Google Cast Me Into Oblivion?” The de-linking, Peston wrote, confirms “the fears of many in the industry that the ‘right to be forgotten’ will be abused to curb freedom of expression and to suppress legitimate journalism that is in the public interest.” How could a public figure like O’Neal succeed in sanitizing the links about him? When Peston looked into the decision more closely, he found that the request for the deletion appeared not to have come from O’Neal. Rather, it was “almost certain” that the deletion came from a request made by one of the commenters on his original piece—presumably, the commenter wanted his own comment forgotten. Googling “Stan O’Neal” still drew a link to Peston’s blog post, but Googling the commenter’s name did not. In any event, the contretemps illustrated the complexity of Google’s task in complying with the Court’s judgment. “We’re a work in progress,” Price told me.

The European Court’s ruling applied only to search engines, not to social-media sites, but the principles underlying the decision have also drawn attention and concern at Facebook, whose headquarters are fifteen minutes north of Google, in Menlo Park. Facebook posts are not public in the same way that search results are; most posts are generally visible only to “friends.” But the standards for access to posts are slippery and often poorly understood by the people who use the service. In light of this, the chances that photos on Facebook could stray in embarrassing directions may be even greater than the risk of unwanted results appearing in a Google search.

Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice-president of communications and public policy, told me, “On one thing, we are unambiguous. We always let people delete the content they create. If you put up a photo or a post, you always get to take it down.” But, while Facebook grants you the right to remove your own posts, what about others’ posts about you? Facebook allows users to “tag” photographs and videos to indicate the identity of the people who are portrayed. Users can untag themselves, but they can’t remove the actual photos. If you ask Facebook to remove photos, videos, or entire posts, a Community Operations team will consider your request. The team always removes pornographic posts, and it allows users to report a post that is “annoying” or “advocates violence” or “goes against my views.” In making these judgments, the team is guided by Facebook’s standards for acceptable expression. As with the Court’s decision on the right to be forgotten, the application of Facebook’s own terms leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

“There is an inevitable conflict between two distinct social values”—privacy and free speech, Schrage said. “The question is how do societies value those competing rights. Technology didn’t create the tension but just revealed it in a dramatic way.”

There are already signs that European regulators want to impose more restrictions on Google. At a July meeting in Brussels of European data regulators, known as the Article 29 Working Party, several officials suggested that Google had not gone far enough in complying with the Costeja decision. Some objected to Google’s practice of informing publishers when links that individuals objected to were deleted; such actions, they said, will merely encourage the republication of the material and thus cut against the Costeja decision. Some also pressed Google to eliminate the disputed search results from, the main search page, as well as from the country-specific search engines. In response to these concerns, a Google official wrote to the European working group that, in Europe, Google directs Internet searches to local country sites, and less than five per cent of European searches go to—searches by travellers, most likely. (Google has also assembled a working group of outside scholars to advise the company on complying with the Costeja decision.)

Still, the day may come when a single court decision covering twenty-eight countries, as in the Costeja case, looks downright appealing to Internet companies. Different countries draw the line on these issues in different ways, and that creates particular problems in the borderless world of the Internet. Now that the Court has issued its ruling in the Costeja case, the claim goes back to a Spanish court, since it was brought by a Spanish lawyer regarding a Spanish newspaper. “Many countries are now starting to say that they want rules for the Internet that respond to their own local laws,” Jennifer Granick, of Stanford, said. “It marks the beginning of the end of the global Internet, where everyone has access to the same information, and the beginning of an Internet where there are national networks, where decisions by governments dictate which information people get access to. The Internet as a whole is being Balkanized, and Europeans are going to have a very different access to information than we have.”

It is clear, for the moment, that the Costeja decision has created a real, if manageable, problem for Google. But suppose that the French establish their own definition of the right to be forgotten, and the Danes establish another. Countries all around the world, applying their own laws and traditions, could impose varying obligations on Google search results. “The real risk here is the second-order effects,” Jonathan Zittrain, a professor at Harvard Law School and director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, said. “The Court may have established a perfectly reasonable test in this case. But then what happens if the Brazilians come along and say, ‘We want only search results that are consistent with our laws’? It becomes a contest about who can exert the most muscle on Google.” Search companies might decide to tailor their search results in order to offend the fewest countries, limiting all searches according to the rules of the most restrictive country. As Zittrain put it, “Then the convoy will move only as fast as the slowest ship.”

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger believes that the European Court has taken an important first step. “It’s a pragmatic solution,” he said. “The underlying data are not deleted, but the Court has created, in effect, a speed bump.” In Germany, he explained, “if you quickly search on, you’ll not find the links that have been removed. But if you spend the extra ten seconds to go to you find them. You are not finding them accidentally, and that’s as it should be. This speed-bump approach gives people a chance to grow and get beyond these incidents in their pasts.”

The Internet’s unregulated idyll seems to be coming to an end, at least in Europe. That pleases Christos Catsouras. After the California Highway Patrol failed to turn over the copyrights, he and his family brought suit against it and the two employees who leaked the photographs, on a variety of grounds, including negligence, infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy. Years passed as some of the charges were dismissed and then reinstated in the course of multiple motions and appeals. On the eve of trial, in 2012, more than five years after Nikki Catsouras’s death, the defendants settled with the family for nearly $2.4 million. Christos Catsouras believes that the ruling by the European Court of Justice represents a broader victory. “I cried when I read about that decision,” he told me. “What a great thing it would have been for someone in our position. That’s all I wanted. I would do anything to be able to go to Google and have it remove those links.”

Friday, September 19, 2014


Original Story:

BEIJING — China's richest man celebrated his 50th birthday last week in the United States and expects his company will last twice as long, plus two years.

Revealing his ambition — and a love of numbers common in China — Jack Ma says Alibaba will last 102 years so the Internet empire he founded in 1999 can span three centuries.

Under Ma's maverick leadership, the 15-year-old firm has already bridged a period of extraordinary change in global trade and the Chinese economy. In a nation with little e-commerce but plenty of Communist Party bureaucrats, he raised a still-growing giant whose U.S. initial public offering, which will start trading under the BABA ticker Friday, is the largest in history.


His rags-to-riches journey is just as spectacular. A scrawny Ma, just over 5 feet tall, was rejected by KFC and other employers in his hometown of Hangzhou in east China. He believed in the Internet's business potential when few other Chinese did. Outlandish ideas earned him the nickname "Crazy Jack Ma." No one thinks he's mad now, even when dressing in wild wigs and lipstick for his annual meeting where he serenades a stadium full of Alibaba employees.

Ma's readiness to make fun of himself, and speak his mind, stands in contrast to China's often conservative corporate barons. Charismatic and energetic, this former teacher has become an inspiration to millions across China. He flunked at math but loved English, and countless books and DVDs sell his business lessons in every airport lounge.

Ma — whose net worth is $21.9 billion,according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index — now stars in the coming-out party for China's private sector onto the world stage. He praises and uses Western management techniques but also quotes regularly from Chairman Mao Zedong. He is a fan of China's kung fu novels and made those legends part of his company's culture. He travels the world with a tai chi trainer.

Jack Ma, whose Chinese name is Ma Yun, was born in 1964 into a markedly different China. Communist Party campaigns dominated daily life. His parents performed a type of musical storytelling that was banned during Mao's devastating Cultural Revolution, from 1966 to 1976.

Ma's grandfather, a local official under the Nationalist Party that Mao defeated, was persecuted as an enemy of the Communist revolution. Ma and his relatives all suffered at that time, wrote Chinese author Zhang Yongsheng in a 2009 biography.

Like most Chinese parents back then, Ma's father beat him growing up. But there were childhood pleasures, too. He liked collecting and fighting crickets, an ancient pastime that Mao also banned. Ma developed an expert ear, able to distinguish the type and size of cricket just by the sound, his friend and personal assistant at Alibaba, Chen Wei, wrote in his 2013 book on Ma.

Starting at age 12, Ma says he awoke at 5 a.m. to walk or bicycle to Hangzhou's main hotel so he could practice his English with foreign tourists, who started trickling into the country after Mao's death in 1976. He did this for nine years and acted as a free tour guide to many, befriended several and later visited one family in Australia.

Those experiences opened his eyes. "I realized what they told me was quite different from what I had learned in school or heard from my parents," Ma told Xiao-Ping Chen, a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, in an interview published last year.


After twice failing the national college entrance exams, Ma entered what he called "Hangzhou's worst college." Graduating in 1988, Ma married his college sweetheart and taught English at a local college for five years, earning $15 a month. During that time, he also applied for, and failed to land, jobs at a local KFC, a hotel and the city police.

Determined to enter business, Ma set up a translation company, but he still had to peddle goods on the street to get by. He traveled to the United States in 1995 as a translator to help a Chinese firm recover a payment. The attempt failed, and the American who owed money pulled a gun on him, Ma says. But a friend in Seattle showed Ma the Internet, and an idea began brewing.

Ma noticed there was not a single online listing for "China" and "beer," unlike those that popped up for American and German beer. He returned to China and set up a listing site that he later sold to the government. After working in Beijing for an Internet firm under the Ministry of Commerce, Ma returned home to Hangzhou to pursue his dream.


With the help of more than a dozen friends who pooled their resources — just $60,000 — he founded Alibaba, a business-to-business online platform. The company now makes more profit than rivals and e-Bay combined, as China's burgeoning middle class are big spenders online, and small companies rely on Alibaba and its online payment system.

Ma seized opportunities as China was transforming into a market economy. At the time, the Internet was first being promoted, and small, private businesses struggled to get loans and had to compete against government-protected state firms, said economist Feng Pengcheng, director of the China Research Center for Capital Management at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

"The business model Ma Yun created in China suited the Chinese market. It might be a failure in the U.S. market, but it's so successful in China," Feng said. "What's more, Ma Yun is good at cooperating with other talents. His company culture and his personal charm attracted employees, and his slogans are uplifting," he said.

For a billionaire so outspoken on company and business issues, Ma says little about his family and manages to keep his private life quiet and scandal-free. Ma and his wife Zhang Ying have a son, an undergrad at the University of California-Berkeley, where Ma had audited classes. A black-and-white photo of a young Ma with his older brother and younger sister went viral this month in China's cyberspace, as many people were unaware their richest citizen even had siblings.

"Ma Yun's lifestyle is very simple and modest. His hobbies are still tai chi and kung fu novels," Chen, his friend and assistant, said last week from Boston, while accompanying Ma on Alibaba's U.S. roadshow before the IPO.

"I don't think he has changed much, he is still that old style. After the IPO, I am sure his lifestyle will be simpler. He won't change," Chen said. In his book, being published in English this month, Chen said Ma enjoys meditation in the mountains, playing poker with friends and writing his own kung fu fiction. By Ma's own account, he believes in both Buddhism and Taoism, and follows many tenets of Confucianism.


"My father said if you were born 30 years ago, you'd probably be in a prison, because the ideas you have are so dangerous," Ma told Charlie Rose in a 2011 TV interview. Despite such bravado for a Western audience, Ma has always been careful in China to avoid statements and actions that could jeopardize his business.

If China ever did permit open elections, Ma could become a popular candidate for top office, said Duncan Clark, a Brit who is a Beijing-based technology consultant. "He is the opposite of stuffy and canned. He's funny, creative and a compelling speaker. I often thought he has another career in stand-up comedy," he said.

Ma resigned last year as Alibaba's CEO, but he clearly remains in charge as the firm's executive chairman. He has hinted at exploring more "cultural" pursuits, such as film-making, education and environmental protection.

"One issue facing China is that people's wallets are bulging, but their heads are empty," he told Hong Kong's South China Morning Post last year. Ma also promises more philanthropy, including what may be China's largest charity foundation. Expect to hear plenty more from maverick Ma.


Original Story:

SAN FRANCISCO — Silicon Valley just got a little less colorful.

Lawrence J. Ellison on Thursday announced his retirement as chief executive of Oracle, a company he founded in 1977 that has transformed the way businesses use technology and made him one of the world’s richest people.

The move, effective immediately, is one of the last times that one of the tech industry’s first generation of celebrity executives is exiting the role of chief. Mr. Ellison’s generation of leaders took computers from the back offices of a few big institutions and into everyday life.

“By a lot of definitions, it’s the end of an era,” said Zach Nelson, chief executive of NetSuite, who worked at Oracle from 1992 to 1996. Mr. Ellison is the largest investor in NetSuite, a company that uses so-called cloud computing technology to manage things like retailing. “He is the longest-tenured founder and C.E.O. in the Valley.”

Mr. Ellison will become executive chairman and will continue to work on Oracle’s technology as its chief technology officer, the company said in a statement.

The current chairman, Jeffrey O. Henley, will become vice chairman. The chief executive job will be shared by Mark V. Hurd, now co-president, and Safra A. Catz, co-president and chief financial officer.

Along with Bill Gates at Microsoft and Andy Grove at Intel, Mr. Ellison was one of the most important — and flamboyant — figures of tech’s early boom years.

His personal fortune, estimated by Bloomberg at about $46 billion, has helped Mr. Ellison become one of the technology industry’s most recognizable people. He has been married four times, and in 2013 his sailboat racing team, Oracle Team USA, won the America’s Cup for the second time in San Francisco.

A licensed pilot and a collector of exotic aircraft, he lives on an estate in Woodside, Calif., valued at over $100 million, and maintains several other properties, as well as a yacht nearly the length of a football field. He bought the 141-square-mile Hawaiian island of Lanai in 2012 for a reported $300 million and is turning the land into a technology-infused sustainable community.

Despite all this, Mr. Ellison does not seem ready to leave Oracle. The executive, who turned 70 last month, said during a conference call with financial analysts that he would “continue doing what I’ve been doing for the past several years,” including overseeing Oracle’s technology development, making final decisions on corporate matters and even appearing on quarterly earnings calls.

The two executives who are replacing him, Mr. Ellison said, “deserved the recognition.”

Oracle’s software and hardware are involved with the ways that companies and large organizations store and manage their data, as well as sophisticated applications for running things like international manufacturing and corporate financial systems.

It is unusual for big technology companies to split responsibilities at the top, but so far the two co-presidents have split much of running Oracle, a company with over 120,000 employees that is based in Redwood Shores, Calif. Mr. Hurd runs service and sales, while Ms. Catz oversees operations and finance.

Still, neither has Mr. Ellison’s technological expertise, nor is either likely to cast anything like the shadow that Mr. Ellison has over his 37-year career.

Born to an unwed mother in New York, Mr. Ellison was adopted by his aunt and uncle and grew up in a Jewish household in Chicago. He is known for a fascination with Japanese samurai culture.

He attended college but did not graduate, and he took a job in the computer business. An early project involved writing for the Central Intelligence Agency a database that could turn numbers into information. The idea, pioneered by IBM, was to relate one set of data to another, for example, a row of people’s names with a column of their birth dates. This, in turn, could be combined in a table of, say, all people born under the astrological sign Leo.

In 1977, working with Robert Miner and Edward Oates, Mr. Ellison created a company called Software Development Laboratories to sell their product, the relational database, to the government. Finishing the project ahead of schedule, they turned their database into software for businesses. After a second name change, the company became Oracle in 1982.

Mr. Ellison proved to be a master salesman as well as an able technologist with a good eye for managing talent, and Oracle became a dominant maker of software for businesses.

He was also adept at changing Oracle with the technological times. The company was born in an era when mainframe computers were giving way to
minicomputers, and it managed to dominate business computing through the rise of personal computers, computer servers and the Internet. Once a foe of growth through acquisitions, over the last several years Mr. Ellison has spent billions getting Oracle into cloud computing, considered the next wave in technology.

Some analysts felt that Mr. Ellison’s passion for the business would keep him busy at Oracle, despite the nominal changes.

“He’s going to have Oracle’s C.E.O.s reporting to him. He’ll have product reporting to him, and product is what it’s all about,” said Bill Hostmann, a research analyst at Gartner. “He gets himself out of day-to-day operations, but is it really that different?”

Whatever the changes mean for Mr. Ellison, they are certainly a victory of sorts for Mr. Hurd, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard who resigned in 2010 after a sexual harassment investigation. HP concluded that Mr. Hurd had not violated its sexual harassment policy, but the executive and the HP board were at odds over other matters of conduct.

At the time, Mr. Ellison castigated the HP board, and he was quick to hire Mr. Hurd, who has moved to strengthen Oracle’s ties to big business.

On Thursday, Oracle reported first-quarter revenue of $8.6 billion and net income of $2.2 billion, or 48 cents a share. In its previous fiscal year, the company had total revenue of $38 billion and net income of almost $11 billion.

Using nonstandard accounting, analysts had expected earnings per share to be 64 cents, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. By that accounting, Oracle missed expectations by 2 cents.

Shares of Oracle declined about 2 percent in after-hours trading.

Mr. Ellison does not leave his company entirely untroubled. Besides continuing challenges in cloud computing, including acquisitions and new competition, the company faces a raft of new types of databases, first developed inside Google and Yahoo, that also threaten the dominance of the relational database.

Whatever troubles Oracle may face, they will not be Mr. Ellison’s.

In addition to NetSuite, he is also a major investor in Salesforce, another premier company in the next generation of business computing.

Friday, September 12, 2014


Original Story:

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The U.S. government threatened to fine Yahoo Inc. YHOO, +1.41% $250,000 a day in 2008 if the company didn't comply with a demand to hand over user data, the Washington Post reported. The Post's report has details from documents unsealed Thursday that show an ultimately unsuccessful legal battle by Yahoo to resist the government's demands. The documents show how federal officials forced U.S. tech companies to participate in the National Security Agency's PRISM surveillance program, the Post said.

Sunday, September 07, 2014


Original Story:

The cyberattacks on JPMorgan Chase and at least four other institutions were "very sophisticated" and were likely state-sponsored, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Thursday.

The nation's largest bank said earlier in the day that it was working with the FBI and other authorities to determine the scope of a hacking attack that hit financial institutions. It said it is not seeing unusual fraud activity. An Atlanta IP Lawyer is reviewing this case.

The other firms involved have not been identified.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the Intelligence Committee chairman who has been briefed on the attacks, described the intrusions on "multiple" financial institutions as "very sophisticated.''

The level of sophistication "takes a very special skill set," he said, and indicates that "clearly, either they were aided by or conducted by a state sponsor."

However, a federal law enforcement official, not authorized to comment publicly, told USA TODAY that at least four banks were hacked recently in a series of coordinated attacks that law enforcement officials believe were carried out by Russian hackers. It's unknown whether the Russian government played a role. An Atlanta data privacy lawyer is skilled in data privacy compliance issues.

"This is a very real and dangerous threat and it's only going to get worse,'' Rogers said. "We've been admiring the advanced sophistication of these actions long enough. Now, it's time to do something about it."

The Financial Times reported on its website Thursday that it interviewed people familiar with the matter who say the attacks were focused on commercial banks. Wall Street investment banks including Goldman Sachs, which have been the targets of previous attempts to steal data or disrupt services, were unaffected, the FT's story said.

However, some sensitive data was lost in the attack, said, citing unnamed security experts.

Sophisticated cyberattacks against financial institutions have become "an everyday occurrence" and are just another part of the cost of doing business today, said Alexander Southwell, a former computer crime prosecutor who is now co-chair of the information technology group at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, a Los Angeles-based law firm.

As a result, most banks are well-prepared. "The work of cybersecurity is often like 'Whac-A-Mole,' with new threats regularly emerging, followed by efforts to stop those threats, which then leads to threats emerging in different ways," Southwell said. "This attack may simply be another round in that 'game.' "

JPMorgan suggests that customers contact the bank if they detect any suspicious activity on their accounts. All of the bank's cards have full liability protection for consumers against fraud. "As we learn more, we will contact anyone we determine may have been impacted by this," bank spokesman Michael Fusco said.

It remains unknown whether the digital intruders were financially motivated or part of an espionage campaign.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said in the firm's 2013 annual report to shareholders that it has bolstered its cyberdefenses. This year, JPMorgan Chase will spend more than $250 million and devote about 1,000 people to cybersecurity, he said. The company is also building three regional state-of-the-art cybersecurity operations centers.

"We're making good progress on these and other efforts, but cyberattacks are growing every day in strength and velocity across the globe," Dimon said. "It is going to be a continual and likely never-ending battle to stay ahead of it — and, unfortunately, not every battle will be won."

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based data security firm reported multiple examples of a credential phishing campaign in which authentic-looking e-mails encouraged users to click a link to see a secure message from JPMorgan.

When they did, they were asked to enter their credentials. The Web page was hosted on a server in Moscow and installed a so-called Trojan-program onto their computer, allowing the attackers to compromise the user's computer.

Proofpoint identified several other active campaigns that appeared to be run by the same attackers, each of which attempted to install the same Trojan software.

Friday, September 05, 2014


Original Story:

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The enterprise is shifting. What we've come to know as network and application infrastructure is transitioning towards the private cloud. Very few understand this better than Red Hat's CEO Jim Whitehurst, who's positioning his company to become the leader in OpenStack.

He wants Red Hat to be able to offer cloud solutions that are scalable, feature-rich, yet easy to implement. Even better, he believes he can offer these services at a fraction of the cost enterprises are paying today. At around $61, Red Hat's shares are up 9.4% for the year to date, surpassing the S&P 500, which is up 8.3% for the same period.

In a recent interview at Red Hat headquarters, Whitehurst said OpenStack will emerge as the "default choice for next-generation architecture." He's not alone in that belief.

Read More: Warren Buffett's Top 10 Dividend Stocks

This sentiment is shared by some of the world's largest corporate leaders, including Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, who just launched Helion, a portfolio of cloud products and services. Industry experts believe Helion, which is billed as an integrator of public and private clouds, has the potential to be a game changer.

But HP has ways to go to supplant Cisco , which is by far the leader in cloud infrastructure equipment revenue. Then there's IBM , which is hedging its future on its ability to dominate the cloud with Watson, the company's cognitive computing platform now open to developers. IBM claims the Watson Developer Cloud "has the potential to disrupt industries."

On the other hand, investors aren't sure exactly where to place their bets.

Microsoft isn't going anywhere. Neither is Oracle . There is Red Hat nemesis VMware , whose name has become synonymous with the cloud and virtualization platforms like vSphere and Hyper-V. VMware just announced its VMware Integrated OpenStack, suggesting a move towards enterprise cloud stacks.

This is the logical next step for VMware. At the same time, this decision can be interpreted as an admission by VMware that OpenStack is here to stay. It supports earlier claims by Whitehurst that there's been a disconnect between server virtualization and what enterprises currently understand as the cloud.

Read More: How Watson Can Spark a Data-Driven R&D Revolution

To that end, Red Hat's rapidly deploying various cloud platforms like Red Hat CloudForms. The company's recently launched 3.1 version, its open hybrid cloud management solution, has the ability to extent cloud management solutions across private, public and hybrid cloud. It supports OpenStack enhancements of competing platforms including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft's System Center and even VMware.

In other words, by showing the confidence to work with competing platforms, Whitehurst is holding true to the very nature of an open environment. As he puts, Red Hat embraces the idea of "being a good steward" to the customer. He called it his duty. This is because as cloud platforms evolve he understands that management solutions like CloudForms is needed to ease the burden of cloud management experience.

The era of one vendor dominating enterprises by locking them in to a single platform is over. Gone will be the antiquated process of implementing cloud strategies and infrastructure builds that often take CIOs and enterprises hostage.

In a response to VMware's market position and prowess as a cloud company, Whitehurst explained that having a cluster of virtualized servers does not qualify as a legitimate cloud platform. In other words, OpenStack's relationship to the cloud and server virtualization are not the same thing.

That VMware is now developing its own OpenStack suite shows that company can no longer risk being excluded to a phenomenon the industry is beginning to embrace. Enterprises are showing by their capital spending that OpenStack is a legitimate alternative to what VMware currently offers.

In OpenStack, Whitehurst does not see a scenario where Red Hat won't emerge as a leader both in cloud development and infrastructure framework. His vision is to allow enterprises the freedom and flexibility needed to execute mission critical tasks.

Though still in the early stages, OpenStack, unlike Linux a decade ago, will emerge beyond just a niche platform. With total revenue for cloud growing at almost 10% annually ($41 billion in 2013), investors will have a tough decision to make.

Read More: Apple's Next iPhone: What We Think We Know

Today, many companies are already proclaiming themselves OpenStack experts, Red Hat included. Whitehurst believes his company has an added advantage given its long history of open source expertise. Do you want to bet against him?


Original Story:

One day in July 2001, Larry Page decided to fire Google’s project managers. All of them.

It was just five years since Page, then a 22-year-old graduate student at Stanford, was struck in the middle of the night with a vision. In it, he somehow managed to download the entire Web and by examining the links between the pages he saw the world’s information in an entirely new way.

What Page wrote down that night became the basis for an algorithm. He called it PageRank and used it to power a new Web search engine called BackRub. The name didn’t stick.

By July 2001, BackRub had been renamed Google and was doing really well. It had millions of users, an impressive list of investors, and 400 employees, including about a half-dozen project managers.

As at most startups, in Google’s first year there were no management layers between the CEO, Page, and the engineers. But as the company grew, it added a layer of managers, people who could meet with Page and the rest of Google’s senior executives and give the engineers prioritized orders and deadlines.

Page, now 28, hated it. Since Google hired only the most talented engineers, he thought that extra layer of supervision was not just unnecessary but also an impediment. He also suspected that Google’s project managers were steering engineers away from working on projects that were personally important to him. For example, Page had outlined a plan to scan all the world’s books and make them searchable online, but somehow no one was working on it. Page blamed the project managers.

Some dramatic streamlining was called for, he resolved. Instead of the project managers, all of Google’s engineers would report to one person, a newly hired VP of engineering named Wayne Rosing, and Rosing would report directly to him.

Google’s human resources boss, a serious woman with bangs named Stacey Sullivan, thought Page’s plan was nuts, according to “I'm Feeling Lucky,” Douglas Edwards' inside view of Google's early years. Sullivan told Page so. “You can’t just self-organize!” she said. “People need someone to go to when they have problems!”

Page ignored her.

Sullivan took her concerns to Eric Schmidt. In March, Schmidt had become the chairman of Google. Everyone assumed he’d be CEO as soon as he could leave his full-time job as CEO of Novell.

Schmidt agreed with Sullivan. So did Page’s executive coach, Bill Campbell. Everyone called Campbell “Coach” because he’d once been Columbia University's football coach. He still walked and talked like he was pacing a sideline.

As Steven Levy detailed in his own rollicking Google history, “In the Plex,” one evening, Campbell got into a big argument with Page about his plan. To prove his point, Campbell brought engineer after engineer into Page’s office to offer their perspective. One after another, they told Page that they actually preferred to have a manager — someone who could end disagreements and give their teams direction.

But Page was determined.

Schmidt in particular may have been the worst person for Sullivan to turn to for help back then. Page had never been behind hiring him — or any CEO, for that matter. Google’s investors made him do it.

Before long, Schmidt might have presented an obstacle to Page’s plan. But not yet. It was July 2001 and Schmidt hadn’t officially become CEO. So Page went ahead.

He deputized Rosing to break the news.

That afternoon, all 130 or so engineers and a half-dozen project managers showed up. They stood outside Page’s office amid Google’s mismatched cubicles and couches — which, like the rest of the company’s office furniture, had been bought from failed startups on the cheap.

Finally, Rosing, a bald man in glasses, began to speak. Rosing explained that engineering was getting a reorganization: All engineers would now report to him, all project managers were out of a job.

The news did not go over well. The project managers were stunned. They hadn’t been warned. They’d just been fired in front of all their colleagues.

The engineers demanded an explanation. So Page gave one. With little emotion, speaking in his usual flat, robotic tone, he explained that he didn’t like having non-engineers supervising engineers. Engineers shouldn't have to be supervised by managers with limited tech knowledge. Finally, he said, Google’s project managers just weren’t doing a very good job.

As Page talked, he kept his gaze averted, resisting direct eye contact. Though he was an appealing presence with above-average height and nearly black hair, he was socially awkward.

The news was met with a chorus of grumbling. Finally, one of the engineers in the room, Ron Dolin, started yelling at Page. He said an all-hands meeting was no place to give a performance review. What Page was doing was “completely ridiculous,” he said, and “totally unprofessional.”

“It sucked,” one of the project managers present said later. “I felt humiliated by it. Larry said in front of the company that we didn't need managers, and he talked about what he didn't like about us. He said things that hurt a lot of people.”

In the end, the layoffs didn’t stick. The project managers Page had intended to fire that day were instead brought into Google’s growing operations organization, under the leadership of Urs Hözle.

Page’s reorganization didn’t last long either. While some engineers thrived without supervision, problems arose. Projects that needed resources didn’t get them. Redundancy became an issue. Engineers craved feedback and wondered where their careers were headed.

Eventually, Google started hiring project managers again.

“I did my best to advise that there is true value in management, and you can set a tone by how you manage this,” Stacy Sullivan recalled in “I'm Feeling Lucky.” “Hopefully it was a lesson learned for Larry.”

By August 2001, Schmidt had fully extricated himself from his responsibilities at Novell. He became Google’s CEO — so-called adult supervision for Page and his co-founder, Brin.

And for a long time, Larry Page was very unhappy.

Everyone knows the Steve Jobs story — how he was fired from the company he founded — Apple — only to return from exile decades later to save the business.

What’s less-well understood is that Apple’s board and investors were absolutely right to fire Jobs. Early in his career, he was petulant, mean, and destructive. Only by leaving Apple, humbling himself, and finding a second success (with Pixar) was he able to mature into the leader who would return to Apple and build it into the world’s most-valuable company.

Larry Page is the Steve Jobs of Google.

Like Jobs, Page has a co-founder, Sergey Brin, but Page has always been his company’s true visionary and driving force.

And just as Apple’s investors threw Jobs out of his company, Google’s investors ignored Page’s wishes and forced him to hire a CEO to be adult supervision.

Both then underwent a long period in the wilderness. Steve Jobs’ banishment was more severe, but Page also spent years at a remove from the day-to-day world of Google.

As with Jobs, it was only through this long exile that Page was able to mature into a self-awareness of his strengths and weaknesses.

Then, like Jobs, Page came back with wild ambitions and a new resolve.

Lawrence Edward Page

On the cold, clear night of Jan. 7, 1943, Nikola Tesla quietly slept in his suite at the Hotel New Yorker, 33 floors above the streets of Manhattan. Suddenly, his chest erupted in pain. Then his heart stopped.

A day later, a hotel maid decided to ignore a “do not disturb” sign on Tesla’s door. She found his body. The great inventor was dead.

A Serbian immigrant born in 1856, Tesla invented the way almost all of the world’s electricity is generated today. He also envisioned and created wireless communication. But he died having spent the better part of his last decade collecting a pension and feeding pigeons, unable to persuade new investors to fund his latest wild visions. He died believing he could invent a weapon to end all war, a way for power to travel wirelessly across the oceans, and plan for harnessing energy from space. He died alone and in debt.

Tesla was a brilliant man. He spoke eight languages and had a photographic memory. Inventions would appear in his mind fully formed. But he was lousy at business.

In 1885, he told his boss, Thomas Edison, that he could improve his motors and generators. Edison told him, “There's $50,000 in it for you — if you can do it.” Tesla did as he’d promised, and in return Edison gave him a $10 raise.

Tesla quit. He formed his own company, Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing. But he soon disagreed with his investors over the direction of the business. They fired him, and he was forced to dig ditches for a year.

In 1900 he persuaded JPMorgan to invest $150,000 in another company. The money was gone by 1901. Tesla spent the rest of his life writing JPMorgan asking for more money. He never got it.

The year after Tesla died, in 1944, New York Herald Tribune journalist John Joseph O’Neill wrote a biography about the inventor, who had been a friend.

“During the last three decades of his life, it is probable that not one out of tens of thousands who saw him knew who he was,” the biography, “Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla,” concludes.

“Even when the newspapers, once a year, would break out in headlines about Tesla and his latest predictions concerning scientific wonders to come, no one associated that name with the excessively tall, very lean man, wearing clothes of a bygone era, who almost daily appeared to feed his feathered friends.”

“He was just one of the strange individuals of whom it takes a great many of varying types to make up a complete population of a great metropolis.”

Forty-one years after those words were published, in 1985, a 12-year-old in Michigan finished reading Tesla's biography and cried.

That was Larry Page.

The child of a pair of computer science professors at Michigan State University, Larry grew up in a messy house. There were computers, gadgets, and tech magazines everywhere. The atmosphere — and Page’s attentive parents — fostered creativity and invention.

In that moment, Page realized it wasn’t enough to envision an innovative technological future. Big ideas aren’t enough. They need to be commercialized. If Page wanted to be an inventor, he was going to have to start a successful company, too.

Tesla’s story also taught Page to watch out for the Thomas Edisons of the world — people who will use you and place your dreams in the service of their own cynical ends.

Larry’s Rules For Management

Google incorporated on Sept. 4, 1998 — two years after the idea of ranking Web pages by their inbound links came to Page in a dream. He made himself CEO, and his best friend, Sergey Brin, was named co-founder.

Co-founders are often forgotten by history. Steve Jobs had two at Apple. Mark Zuckerberg had four at Facebook.

Sergey Brin was a different kind of sidekick to Page. They had met at Stanford, where Brin was outgoing and energetic, known among professors for his habit of bursting into their offices without knocking.

To Page’s startup-turned-global-technology company, Brin would bring a much-needed extroversion that Page lacked. Brin excelled at strategy, branding, and developing relationships between Google and other companies. He was a partner to Page, if, ultimately, a junior one.

While Google is often thought of as the invention of two young computer whizzes — Sergey and Larry, Larry and Sergey — the truth is that Google is a creation of Larry Page, helped along by Sergey Brin.

Page and Brin had raised $1 million from friends and family to launch their startup, moving off Stanford’s campus and into a rented garage.

By February 1999, the startup had already outgrown the garage, relocating to an office above a bike shop in Palo Alto, California. Seven months later, Google outgrew that office, moving to a nondescript building in an office park a couple of miles off the highway in nearby Mountain View.

Outside that building, in an asphalt parking lot, yellow police tape marked off an area where Page, Brin, and the rest of Google’s employees — Googlers, they called themselves — played roller hockey. The games were full contact. Employees wore pads and would come back inside from games drenched in sweat and sometimes bloodied and bruised. “No one held back when fighting the founders for the puck,” Douglas Edwards wrote. “The harder you played, the more respect you earned.”

Inside the beige office building, the game was twice as tough. Yes, there was free food for all employees and a massage therapist on site. And, with brightly colored exercise balls and couches everywhere, the place looked like a kindergarten crossed with a freshman dorm.

But for Page’s employees, working at Google felt more like a never-ending thesis defense. Everywhere you looked, there were know-it-alls ready to gleefully tear into you. Page had originally bonded with Brin over a day of fierce argument, and that’s how the relationship grew. Their debates were not shouting matches. They were a series of blunt points made by one side, and then the other, with a little name-calling thrown in. Page would call one of Brin’s ideas stupid. Brin would say Page’s idea was naive. They’d both called each other bastards.

Page never felt any deterioration of his friendship with Brin after these fights, so he styled his interaction with other Googlers in the same unvarnished way. Page once told a room full of Google’s first marketing employees that their profession was built on an ability to lie.

Page had a tendency to communicate through emphatic body language. He’d lift an eyebrow in a way that made you know he thought your idea was stupid. If you said something that made him angry or uncomfortable, he’d respond in a quieter tone, and wouldn’t be able to look at you while he did it.

He became infamous for his lack of social grace. A slow-loading application during a product demonstration would prompt him to start counting out loud.

“One one-thousand.”

“Two one-thousand.”

Page encouraged his senior executives to fight the way he and Brin went at it. In meetings with new hires, one of the two co-founders would often provoke an argument over a business or product decision. Then they would both sit back, watching quietly as their lieutenants verbally cut each other down. As soon as any argument started to go circular, Page would say, “I don't want to talk about this anymore. Just do it.”

It wasn’t that he was a tyrant. It’s just that he connected to people over their ideas, not their feelings.

Early Google HR boss Heather Cairns remembers once spotting Page talking intently with Google’s janitor after work hours.

She later asked Page what they were talking about so seriously.

“I want to know how everyone does their job,” he replied, going on to offer a detailed recitation of the janitor’s method for placing empty trash bags at the bottom of each barrel so he could replace them easily.

“It’s very efficient,” Page said approvingly, “and he saves time doing that, and I learned from that.”

Page hadn’t been a social child. But in college and graduate school, he’d been able to connect with people over external abstractions: visions of the future, cool technologies. At Google, he kept his interaction with employees on this level. He managed without regard to feelings.

Asked about his approach to running the company, Page once told a Googler his method for solving complex problems was by reducing them to binaries, then simply choosing the best option. Whatever the downside he viewed as collateral damage he could live with.

When Page went to Stanford after receiving his bachelor’s in computer science from the University of Michigan, he expected he’d have to make a choice between becoming an academic and building a company. Choosing the former would mean giving up the opportunity to become the inventor of widely used applications. But building a company would force him to deal with people in a way he didn’t enjoy. For Google’s first few years, he got to have the best of both worlds: He was building a product that millions of people used, and he created an interpersonal culture intensely focused on ideas and outcomes rather than emotional niceties.

For many years, Google thrived under this type of management.

For many employees, the combative atmosphere was a reasonable price to pay for working at a company with a real clarity of purpose.

Even in cases where the environment left bruises, solid ideas won. In “In The Plex,” Steven Levy tells the story of how, in 2000, Google hired an associate product manager named Wesley Chan and put him in charge of building something called Google Toolbar, a way for users to search without having to open Microsoft Explorer. Chan figured out that no one was using it because it didn’t do anything special for users. He decided it could double as a pop-up-ad blocker.

He pitched the idea to Page in a meeting.

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!” Page replied. “Where did we find you?”

Chan was undaunted, however. Shortly thereafter, he secretly installed the improved Toolbar onto Page’s computer. When Page later mentioned to a room full of people that he was seeing fewer pop-ups, Chan told him why. The Toolbar was launched.

Page eventually wrote down his rules for management:

  • Don't delegate: Do everything you can yourself to make things go faster.
  • Don't get in the way if you're not adding value. Let the people actually doing the work talk to each other while you go do something else.
  • Don't be a bureaucrat.
  • Ideas are more important than age. Just because someone is junior doesn't mean they don't deserve respect and cooperation.
  • The worst thing you can do is stop someone from doing something by saying, “No. Period.” If you say no, you have to help them find a better way to get it done.

The niceties of social interaction weren't the only rules Page was happy to violate.

In 1999, for instance, the method by which large Web companies such as eBay, Yahoo, and Google added server space had become fairly routine. They purchased servers and installed them in cages at giant warehouses owned by third-party vendors. The warehouse companies would pay for the power that kept the servers running and the air conditioning that kept them cool, and the website owners would pay for space by the square foot. Page figured if Google was going to pay per square foot, he was going to stuff as many servers into that space as he could. He took apart servers and began hunting for ways to shrink them. The first thing to go? All the off switches.

“Why would you ever want to turn a server off?” he reportedly asked.

Stripped of useless components and fitted with corkboard to keep wires from crossing, Google developed new super-slim servers. They looked ugly. But before long, Google would end up paying the same price to host 1,500 servers as early rival Inktomi paid to host 50. As a result, Google’s search ran a lot faster, and Inktomi, along with many of Google’s other search rivals, was left in the dust.

Despite all his stunning success running Google during its first two years — or perhaps because of it — Larry Page was about to lose his job.

Into the Wilderness

During the first half of 1999, Google experienced an insane surge in popularity. That ballooning usage necessitated new capital to invest in more servers and a growing staff. But Google wasn’t making any money yet.

As Page and Brin began seeking new investors, Page had one requirement above all: He and Brin would retain a majority of the company’s voting stock and ultimate control over Google.

At first, Silicon Valley’s venture capitalists laughed off the notion.

Google kept growing, and the giggles faded. Before long, the Valley’s two highest-profile venture capital firms — Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital — agreed to invest a combined total of $25 million under Page’s terms.

But the investors had a stipulation of their own. In exchange for allowing Page and Brin to retain a majority ownership of Google, they wanted Page, then 26, to step down as CEO. They wanted him to hire adult supervision.

As Steven Levy reported, John Doerr, the partner from Kleiner Perkins, told Page that a world-class CEO would do a “much better job of building a world-class management team.”

Page took the deal. Google needed the money.

A couple of months after the deal closed, however, when there was no way the investors could back out, Page called Doerr and informed the Venture Capitalist that he and Brin had experienced a change of heart.

“We actually think we can run the company between the two of us,” he said.

It is possible that Page had initially agreed with Doerr that Google needed a world-class CEO, only to change his mind later. But probably not.

Page had always been a control freak. A college friend told Levy that even back at the University of Michigan, Page was “controlling and paranoid” because “he wanted to make sure everything was done well and right.”

In 1998, Page and Brin decided to take all eight of Google’s employees on a company ski trip to Lake Tahoe. When they went to rent a van, they discovered they could save $2.50 per day if they designated a single driver. Page designated himself. He drove the whole way while everyone else played math games in the back.

This was a given, Douglas Edwards wrote. “Larry wasn't about to put his life in anyone else's hands.”

The truth was, Page did not think he needed any help running Google — at least not beyond the help provided by Brin — and that’s what he told his new investor.

Doerr flipped out. It was obvious to him Page wasn’t ready to lead a major corporation, and the way he’d conveyed his views on the issue wasn’t encouraging.

He suggested that Page meet with a bunch of big tech CEOs — Apple’s Steve Jobs, Intel’s Andy Grove, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos — and ask them about their jobs. Doerr thought Page would come away convinced he could use help.

Page readily agreed.

After all the meetings, he called Doerr and delivered some surprising news. Page was convinced that Google could use a CEO after all. But only if that CEO was Steve Jobs.

Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen — but Doerr was glad to hear that Page believed someone in the world could help. Together, they started interviewing other candidates. Doerr introduced Page and Brin to the CEO of Novell, Eric Schmidt.

Page liked Schmidt OK. Unlike most executives, Schmidt had been a programmer. In fact, years ago he had written code for a software tool that Google was still using. Brin liked Schmidt because he was a “Burner,” an attendee of the annual psychedelic Burning Man festival held in a Nevada desert.

Google hired Schmidt. He joined as chairman in March 2001 and became CEO in August.

Page went along with the arrangement but wasn’t happy about it. He fretted about his place in the new hierarchy — his title would be president of products — and even began to wonder if he’d become unnecessary to the company he’d founded.

It was during this uncertain period, in July 2001, that Page dragged Google through his misbegotten engineering reorganization, immediately proving to most observers that Doerr had been right all along.

Page may also have had another motive for the move: Getting rid of managers who might have ended up reporting to Schmidt may have seemed like a way for Page to maintain his control.

“I can't think of anything that people at Google were ever so upset about — at least in engineering,” former Google engineer and Gmail inventor Paul Buchheit told Edwards. “People had some sense of ownership of the company, that it was this big happy family. And all of a sudden, some of your friends were kicked off the island. You're, like, ‘This isn't what I thought it was. I thought we were all in it together.’”

Google had come a long way with Page running the place like a hockey game crossed with a thesis defense. But quietly, Google employees were thrilled to have someone with a more deft, empathetic touch now running the show.

That’s What Schmidt’s For

Over the next several years, Google grew into a massive global business.

Always in consultation with Page and Brin, Schmidt kept things on an even keel. He hired a team of executives, built a sales force, and took Google public.

Everyone inside Google still regarded Larry Page as their ultimate boss. He approved every hire, and it was his signature on the day of Google’s initial public offering, Aug. 19, 2004, that turned hundreds of people into millionaires — and Page himself into a billionaire.

But gradually Page became a more distant, remote figure. To use a metaphor from Google’s earlier years, Page was no longer driving the van. He’d hired a driver and was daydreaming in the back.

It was a slow retreat. During the first few years, Page kept a tight grip on Google’s product development.

One of Schmidt’s first efforts after joining as CEO in August 2001 was to convince Page that Google needed to hire a vice president of product management. Page thought the role was superfluous.

Nonetheless, Schmidt persuaded him to hire Jonathan Rosenberg for the job. Rosenberg came from Excite@Home, a massively funded high-profile startup that failed in the late 1990s.

But just because Rosenberg got the job and had the title didn’t mean Page was going to make room for him at Google.

“I would come to the staff meeting with my structured agenda, the market research we needed to do, the one- and two-year road maps that we needed to develop, and Larry would basically mock them and me,” Rosenberg later told a reporter.

Rosenberg also had a very hard time hiring product managers. He kept bringing in top graduates from Harvard’s and Stanford’s MBA programs, and Page kept rejecting them.

Rosenberg eventually asked Page what he was doing wrong.

Page told him to stop telling engineers what to do — and to stop trying to hire other non-engineers to do it too.

One of Page’s closest confidantes at Google, a rising executive named Marissa Mayer, finally clued Rosenberg in, as Levy tells it. He should stop trying to hire MBAs to be product managers and start hiring computer science graduates with an interest in business.

The only way Page was ever going to loosen his grip and allow a management layer to come between him and Google’s engineers was if that layer was made up of other engineers.

Rosenberg took the advice and it worked. Soon Google had an army of product managers. Page took a step back.

A couple of years into Rosenberg’s career at Google, he met Larry Page’s mom. Her son was showing her around campus.

“What does he do?” Page’s mother asked about Rosenberg.

“Well, at first I wasn’t sure,” Page told her. “But I’ve decided that now he’s the reason I sometimes have free time.”

The Slow Fade

None of this is to say Page ever stopped reviewing, approving, and contributing to the products Google shipped.

Along with Brin, Page controlled a majority of the company’s voting shares. Basically, he owned the place. And doing work on products interested him in a way that dealing with people did not. Plus, he was really good at it.

Before Google launched Gmail in 2004, its creator, Paul Buchheit, brought it to Page’s open cubicle office for a review.

As Buchheit called the program up on Page’s computer, the boss made a face.

“It’s too slow,” Page said.

Buchheit disagreed. It was loading just fine, he said.

No, Page insisted. It had taken a full 600 milliseconds for the page to load.

“You can’t know that,” Buchheit said. But when he got back to his office, he looked up the server logs. It had taken exactly 600 milliseconds for Gmail to load.

Page remained a deciding voice in big strategic initiatives like Google’s multibillion-dollar bid for wireless spectrum and its $1.65 billion acquisition of video-sharing site YouTube in 2006.

But to Googlers, it felt like Page was much less involved with the day-to-day management of the company.

When Eric Schmidt held big meetings with his direct reports, a group called the Operating Committee, or OC, Page would show up, but he’d have a laptop open in front of him the whole time. Brin would do the same.

Neither would participate in the meeting until Schmidt said something like, “Boys, I need your attention now.” Then Page or Brin would look up and offer a sharp opinion on the matter at hand. Characteristically, Page would offer his two cents while staring off into an empty corner of the room.

On occasion, Page would grow more animated, and Schmidt would carefully shut him down, saying, “We heard you, Larry. Thank you.”

On some issues, Page’s opinion was simply ignored. For example, after Google had become the Internet’s most successful advertising business, Page decided the company should destroy the advertising agency industry. To his thinking, it was obviously a highly inefficient system that could be erased with the help of technology. Not only did the company opt not to take on this battle, but Schmidt and his top advertising executives, Tim Armstrong and Sheryl Sandberg, did their best to make sure none of Google’s many important ad-agency clients caught wind of Page’s ideas on the topic.

Over time, Page came to appreciate Schmidt’s strengths very much. Page’s goal had been to invent something that made the world better and to see it become properly commercialized. Google search had certainly done the former, and Schmidt had played a huge role in building the kind of company that could capitalize financially on Page’s vision. He wasn’t like any of the villains who had plagued Nikola Tesla’s life.

As his comfort level with Schmidt increased, Page receded further.

In 2007, he decided he was going to too many meetings. He tended to turn down these requests, but Google executives who wanted his input had found a workaround — sending their meeting invitations straight to his assistants, who would dutifully load up his calendar. So Page got rid of his assistants. This forced anyone who wanted to meet with Page to stalk him through Google’s office. In this situation, his longstanding social deficiencies served him well: He got good at dismissing people with a friendly seeming nod over the shoulder while he kept walking.

He also grew tired of giving interviews. In 2008, Page told Google’s communications team that they could have a total of eight hours of his time that year. Why should he have to talk to the outside world?

That’s what Schmidt was for.

Maybe There’s More We Can Do

One day in late 1998, Google’s first HR boss, Heather Cairns, walked into the company’s garage office and caught Larry Page and Sergey Brin playing with Legos.

“What the hell are you doing?” Cairns asked, in her brassy but congenial way. The contraption on the table in front of Page had robot arms with rubber wheels at the end of them.

“We’re trying to figure out how to turn a page of a book without a human hand,” Page explained. “Someday we’re going to put every publication in the world on the Internet so everybody has access to it.”

“Sure,” Cairns said. “Sure.”

Not long after that, Page spent an entire day driving around Palo Alto with a small handheld camera. He’d drive for a few feet, and then stop and take a few pictures. Then he’d drive another few feet and do it again. He came home and uploaded the pictures to his computer. What he saw convinced him his latest big idea was feasible. Google could put a number of cameras on a number of cars and drive every street in the world, photographing all the way. The result would be a digital, searchable representation of the entire physical world — or the most relevant parts of it — available online.

During the Schmidt years, both the books and the photo project would become popular Google products. Google Books, launched in 2003, has come to encompass 20 million volumes, and it continues to grow. Google Street launched in 2007, and by 2014, made every thoroughfare in 50 countries viewable from almost every Web browser on the planet.

Even in Google’s earliest days, Page had always wanted the company to do more than just basic Web search. Since he was a kid, he’d been dreaming up world-changing schemes. As an undergrad at the University of Michigan, he’d proposed that the school replace its bus system with something he called a PRT, or personal rapid transit system — essentially a driverless monorail with separate cars for every rider. Later, at Stanford, he’d peppered his adviser, Terry Winograd, with thesis ideas that sounded as far out there as some of Tesla’s later schemes. One idea involved building a superlong rope that would run from the Earth’s surface all the way into orbit, making it cheaper to put objects in space. Another proposal called for solar kites that would draw energy from space.

With Google now essentially minting money from advertising and Schmidt managing its steady growth, Page began to realize that he was finally in a position to bring his visions to life.

By 2005, one of Page’s visions was to put handheld computers with access to Google in the pocket of every person on the planet. So, that year, Page directed Google corporate development to buy a small startup with the same ludicrously huge ambition. This startup was Android. Its CEO and co-founder was Andy Rubin, a former Apple executive who had also developed a failed but once-popular Internet-connected phone called the Sidekick.

The Android acquisition was a Larry Page production. Page didn’t tell Schmidt about the deal — which set the company back about $50 million — until after it was done. Brin knew all about it, but he didn’t take much interest.

Page set up Android as a separate entity, one that was only nominally a part of Google, and allowed Rubin wide latitude to run it without interference from the parent company. Android even had its own building, one that regular Googlers couldn’t access with their employee badges. Schmidt essentially acted as if it didn’t exist, mostly because $50 million wasn’t enough of Google’s massive money pile for him to worry if it had been well spent.

For his part, Page turned Android into a passion project. He spend huge amounts of time with Rubin, so much that he often felt guilty that he wasn’t looking after the rest of Google more closely. Then again, that’s what Schmidt was for.

Over the next two years, Rubin developed what he thought would be a state-of-the-art mobile operating system.

Then, during a 2007 trip to Las Vegas, Rubin flipped open his laptop in a cab to watch Steve Jobs introduce Apple’s version of an Internet-connected phone.

This was the iPhone, and it was amazing.

Holy crap, Rubin thought. We’re going to have to redo our phone.

Rubin had his cab driver pull over so he could watch the rest of Jobs’ demo.

A year or so later, in September 2008, T-Mobile launched the G1, the first phone using the software developed by Rubin’s team. The operating system looked and worked like an iPhone knock-off. But it was a good knock-off, and free for phone makers to install.

The OS proliferated as manufacturers raced to keep up with Apple and carriers tried to remain competitive with AT&T, the only network to carry the iPhone. In the second quarter of 2009, Android-loaded phones captured 1.8% of all sales. During the same quarter in 2010, Android sales made up 17.2% of the market, topping Apple, which had 14%, for the first time. Soon, Android would become the world’s most popular operating system.

By 2010, Page had now played a key role in creating two ubiquitous technologies that had arguably improved life for people around the world. Google, which had begun life as a thesis project, had helped make the Internet a vastly more powerful tool for everyday users. Then, without any adult supervision, Page fostered the development of Android. Now, Android was turning smartphones into such cheap commodities that it was only a matter of time until everyone on the planet owned a computer connected to the Internet.

Achieving such a resounding second success — as a manager this time — gave Page enormous confidence in his own executive abilities. Page had enough self-awareness to realize that earlier in his career he’d been bad at delegating. He was glad to see he’d been able to do that with Rubin.

Page had always had issues trusting people. That was changing. Maybe it was because he had a family now. In a May 2009 commencement speech at the University of Michigan, Page talked about his father, his mother, his new wife Lucy Southworth, and their child. “Just like me, your families brought you here, and you brought them here,” he said. “Please keep them close and remember: They are what really matters in life.”

While Android boomed and Page matured, Google’s core business built around search and advertising blossomed under Schmidt’s management. By 2010, Google had a $180 billion market capitalization and 24,000 employees. It was a big company.

It had also developed some big-company problems. New York Times reporter Claire Cain Miller detailed several of them in a November 2010 article headlined “Google Grows, and Works to Retain Nimble Minds.”

In her story, Miller quoted several Googlers and former Googlers who said the company had become too bureaucratic and bloated. She wrote that Google used to limit groups of engineers working on projects to 10, but that number had swollen to 20 or even 40 in recent years. Worse, she reported, “Engineers say they have been encouraged to build fewer new products and focus on building improvements to existing ones.”

One project manager told her he knew it was time to quit Google because of all the people he had to copy on his emails. He said, “I think that there is a class of person who is able to walk away from this relatively easy, consistent money because they are so dissatisfied with the processes of a big company.”

Another product manager told Miller he was considering leaving because working at Google meant working on products that got very little public exposure.

Miller even quoted Schmidt saying he was worried about the situation.

“There was a time when three people at Google could build a world-class product and deliver it, and it is gone,” Schmidt said in the story.

When Miller’s article ran, Schmidt was furious. A Google spokeswoman called the paper and demanded Miller be removed from the beat. (She wasn’t.)

Besides bureaucracy, Schmidt’s Google was also dealing with another big-company problem by 2010. It wasn’t the cool new mega-power in Silicon Valley anymore. Facebook was.

In 2007, a product manager named Justin Rosenstein quit Google for Facebook. He then wrote a memo to his former co-workers describing Facebook as “the Google of yesterday … that company that’s on the cusp of Changing the World, that’s still small enough where each employee has a huge impact on the organization.”

By 2010, 142 of Facebook’s 1,700 employees were Google refugees.

Among Google’s more senior executives, the company’s age was felt in another way. Schmidt had never fully reformed the argumentative, heated way that decisions were made at the top during the Page era. A decade on, repeated clashes had turned executives into bitter rivals who nearly refused to work with one another.

In fall 2010, Page felt all these new weaknesses in Google. He also sensed another issue that he found even more worrying: Under Schmidt’s otherwise successful tenure, the company had dialed back its ambitions.

In 2009, Google made $6.5 billion in profits and had 20,000 employees. Page looked at those numbers and thought, we have all this money, we have all these people; why aren’t we doing more stuff?

He couldn’t help but think about how the only really big thing Google had done lately was Android, which Schmidt hadn’t been interested in.

Page, happily married and more or less out of the public eye, was enjoying his life as the visionary behind-the-scenes leader of Google. But he had begun to wonder if Schmidt was the right person to lead the company into the future.

Late that year, Page sat down for an interview with Steven Levy for what would become Levy’s book, “In the Plex.” Levy asked Page if he hoped to become CEO again. Page offered a bland reply. “I really enjoy what I do,” he said. “I think I’m able to positively affect a lot of things, which makes me feel really good, and I don’t see any likely change in that.”

Then he got up and left the room. The interview was over.

A minute later, though, Page came back. He told Levy, “I just feel like people aren’t working enough on impactful things.” He said Google was “not yet doing a good job getting the kinds of things we’re trying to do to happen quickly and at scale.”

Page recognized that Google’s search-advertising business, with its insane profit margins and sustained growth, was exactly the kind of cash-generating machine that his hero Nikola Tesla would have used to fund his wildest dreams. Now, he had the chance to do things differently. Seeing Google work on anything short of insanely ambitious was driving him a little nuts.

The frustration was audible in Page’s voice when he gave that commencement speech at the University of Michigan in 2009. He told the graduates about how he and his wife had gone to India a couple of years before. They visited a poor village where sewage ran in the streets. The sewage, Page said, was infected with polio — the same disease that killed his father.

“He would have been very upset that polio still persists, even though we have a vaccine,” Page said. “The world is on the verge of eliminating polio, with 328 people infected so far this year. Let’s get it done soon.”

In the fall of 2010, Page’s frustrations flared out into the open during a product-review meeting. Eric Schmidt, Brin, Page, and Google’s top product executives were there along with their respective senior staffs. Page, as usual, sat quietly at the table looking at his phone. Up front, an executive pitched a new product that helped users find the right offline store to do their shopping.

The executive was well into his pitch when, suddenly, Page interrupted him.

“No,” Page said emphatically. “We don’t do this.”

The room grew quiet.

“We build products that leverage technology to solve huge problems for hundreds of millions of people.”

He went on. “Look at Android. Look at Gmail. Look at Google Maps. Look at Google Search. That’s what we do. We build products you can’t live without.”

“This is not it.”

Page didn’t shout. He didn’t have to. The message was loud and clear.

That December, Page, Brin, and Schmidt met to discuss the obvious.

During Google’s earnings call on Jan. 20, 2011, Schmidt announced he was done as CEO. The job was once again Larry Page’s.

Schmidt, who would become executive chairman, sent out a tweet later that day: “Adult-supervision no longer needed.”

A Different Larry Page

Page took on the CEO job with fast-moving determination.

First, he re-organized the company’s senior management. He took a handful of the company’s most important product divisions, including YouTube, Ads, and Search, and put a CEO-like manager at the top of each. Page wanted to repeat the success he’d had with Rubin at Android.

Then, Page and Google finally responded to the threat of Facebook with its own social network, Google+.

By the end of that first summer, Google had redesigned all of its products with a single, coherent look.

In 2012, Page spent $12.5 billion to buy Motorola, mostly to acquire patents to protect Android from lawsuits by Apple and others.

Google got into hardware, unveiling the Chromebook, a laptop run on a Google operating system, and a futuristic Web-enabled computer that users could wear like eyeglasses called Google Glass.

At the end of 2012, Google began installing fiber-optic Internet cables in Kansas City, providing anyone in town with a free Internet connection 100 times faster than broadband.

These moves surprised the wider world but not those who knew Page. Ever since he was a kid, he’d been a guy with big, improbable dreams who did everything he could to make them reality as quickly as he could.

It wasn’t until later, however, that it became clear to those who worked closest with Page how much he had changed during his years away from the thick of the action.

In February 2013, Google's senior executives flew in from around the world to meet at the Carneros Inn, a rustic resort in the hilly vineyards of Napa Valley. This was Google's annual two-day, top-secret retreat for senior executives.

Among the attendees were Susan Wojkicki, responsible for Google's massive advertising business; Andy Rubin, head of Android; Salar Kamangar, the CEO of YouTube; Sundar Pichai, leader of Google's Chrome division; and Vic Gundotra, the Google+ boss. Each brought his or her senior staff members.

On the first day of the retreat, everyone gathered in the Carneros Inn’s white-curtained Napa Ballroom for a speech from Page.

In his raspy voice, Page told the room that Google's ambitions were incredibly high, but that it would never reach its goals if the people in that room did not stop fighting with one another. From now on, Google would have “zero tolerance for fighting.” Page admitted that the organization, in its younger days, had demanded its leaders be aggressive with one another. He himself had been perhaps the most aggressive of all.

But that was when Google's problems were linear problems — for instance, the need to grow the market share of all its products from nil to competitive to winning. Now, with Google leading the world in most of the product categories it competed in, the company faced what Page called n-squared problems. Google needed to grow by “10X.” It needed to create whole new markets, to solve problems in as yet unimagined ways. To solve n-squared problems, Google executives would have to learn to work together.

The speech surprised the Google executives, particularly the company veterans. Since the days of Page and Brin calling every idea they didn’t like “stupid” — if not “evil” — fighting was the way things got done at Google.

Some of them remembered that day in July 2001 when Page had insulted and fired a handful of project managers in front of all their peers. But when the people in the Carneros Inn ballroom looked at Page that day, they saw someone who looked very different from the kid who built Google’s first server rack in his dorm room. Page’s hair had turned gray. He'd put on a middle-aged man’s weight around the waist and in his face. As a result of a vocal-cord paralysis, his voice had grown gravelly and worn.

Understanding Every Want And Need

On March 19, 2014, Larry Page gave an interview at a TED conference in Vancouver, Canada. During the keynote, Page and his interviewer, Charlie Rose, sat in tall chairs on a stage with a table between them.

The interview was essentially scripted. Page, his chief PR executive Rachel Whetstone, and Google’s CMO Lorraine Twohill, had spent the day before in a Vancouver hotel room working on the presentation.

Now, Page and Rose were looking away from the audience at a giant screen above and behind the stage. On the screen, there was a video-game boxing match. One boxer had the other trapped in a corner and was mercilessly whaling on his opponent.

The winning boxer was being controlled by an artificially intelligent computer program created at Google.

This, Page explained to Rose, was the future of Google. Page pointed out that all the Google artificial intelligence could “see” were the same pixels on the screen that a human player could see. It had learned to play the game all by itself. Look how well it’s doing, Page said. Imagine if that kind of intelligence were thrown at your schedule.

Rose, enthusiastic but a little confused, chuckled. Likewise, the audience had no idea what Page was getting at. The rehearsals hadn’t worked. And neither Whetstone nor Twohill were to blame.

In terms of his ability to relate to other humans, Larry Page has come a long way since that one awkward day in July 2001. But he’s still bad at public speaking. All the content is there, but it’s buried in a jumble of half-finished sentences and digressive run-ons. Steve Jobs, Larry Page is not. He’s not even Mark Zuckerberg. As a result, the public is essentially unaware of what, exactly, Google and Larry Page are up to these days.

As Page enters his fourth year in charge of Google again, the company is in fantastic shape. The stock price is above $700 per share, and it’s not hard to imagine a day when Google revenues will cross $100 billion per year.

And yet, Page believes the company faces an existential question: Can Google come up with another great business after search?

Between Google search and Android, Larry Page and Google can take credit for creating two technology platforms used worldwide by billions of people.

But Google gives Android away for free. Android’s contribution to Google’s bottom line is that it puts Google search and Google search ads into the pockets of millions of people around the world. In that sense, it’s not a great new business for Google at all, it’s merely an extension of Google’s primary business. Google still makes 90% of its revenues from advertising; 70% of Google’s total revenues still come from search ads.

One danger to Google is that eventually — not this year, not this decade, but inevitably — it will be so huge that it will capture nearly all the money any businesses on the planet spends on marketing. As crazy as this sounds, it’s plausible. Google revenues are already bigger than all the money marketers spend on magazine and newspaper ads combined. It already owns all but the tiniest sliver of the online ad market. Google search is running out of room to grow.

For Page, this means he now spends much of his time asking himself what that future is going to be and how Google creates it.

He’s got lots of ideas, and now that he’s in charge he’s got his engineers hacking away at plenty of them.

He never gave up on the transportation system he pitched to the University of Michigan, so now he has Google engineers working on self-driving cars.

Then there’s artificial intelligence. Besides dominating video games, Google’s AI was also able to watch all of YouTube, learn from the experience, and draw a picture of a cat.

There’s a Google subsidiary called Calico that’s working on solutions to the problems of aging and death.

Google has another subsidiary, Google Fiber Inc., connecting homes in Kansas City; Austin, Texas; and Provo, Utah with Internet that’s 100 times faster than broadband. Google Fiber may soon expand to nine other cities, including Phoenix, Arizona; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Portland, Oregon.

In 2013, Page moved Andy Rubin from the top of Android and asked him to start working on robots. Page envisioned a world in which robots could do things like take care of the elderly and load our self-driving cars with groceries and household supplies while we’re busy at work. At the end of 2013, Google bought a company called Boston Dynamics, which makes humanoid and animal-like robots — some of them for the military.

Also in 2013, Page met former Apple executive Tony Fadell — the guy who designed the iPod — and persuaded him to sell his new company, Nest, to Google for $3.2 billion. Nest makes thermostats that are connected to the Internet. Just this month, Google purchased Titan Aerospace, a company that produces drones.

At Google, they call the biggest ideas moonshots. There are many more of them, from hot-air balloons that broadcast the Internet spectrum — providing access to areas of the world that have lacked it — to plans to produce Android-powered watches.

Page admits that the diversity and number of ideas leave some of the company’s investors anxious. They worry: Can Google keep its focus? Or is it about to follow in the footsteps of so many technology giants before it, spreading itself too thin, chasing too many wild ideas? And really, who needs a computer that can beat a human at a video game?

Page’s answer to those concerns is twofold. First, he believes that it will be easier for Google to work on moonshots than on more mundane products. His logic: There’s less competition. Also, the best people will work for Google because the best people like working on ambitious projects.

Secondly, Page argues that all of these schemes are part of providing the world better search.

Page has, over the years, come up with a broad definition for what Google search should be.

In 2012, he told a reporter that “the perfect search engine would understand whatever your need is. It would understand everything in the world deeply [and] give you back kind of exactly what you need.”

During a keynote at a Google conference in 2013, Page said that in the long term — “you know, 50 years from now or something” — he hopes Google’s software will be able to “understand what you’re knowledgeable about, what you’re not, and how to organize the world so that the world can solve important problems.”

So, in Page’s vision, if you walk into your house and feel cold, your Google-powered wristwatch will be performing a search to understand that feeling. The search result will be for your Google-powered thermostat to turn up the heat.

Likewise, if you run out of milk and your Google-powered fridge notifies your Google-powered self-driving car to go collect some more from the Google-powered robots at the local grocery warehouse (no doubt paying with your Google wallet), it will all be a function of search.

The key to understanding the diversity of Google’s moonshots is understanding that Page’s vision of “perfect search” only works if all the products you interact with are compatible with one another.

For example, Google’s most advanced search product today, Google Now, is able to do things like alert Android users that they need to leave now if they are going to beat traffic and make a flight on time. But it can only do that because it has access to the Android users’ inboxes, Google Maps, Google Flight Search, Google Calendar, and, of course, the users’ smartphones.

So while it may seem random for Google to get into businesses as diverse as cars, thermostats, robotics, and TV production, there is an overriding objective behind it all: Page is envisioning a world where everything we touch is connected with and understood by an artificially intelligent computer that can discern patterns from our activity and learn to anticipate our needs before we even know we have them. Someday, Page has said several times, this AI will be hooked directly to our brains — perhaps through an implant.

Some of these ideas would scare people if Page were better at talking about them. He is, after all, directing billions of dollars every year toward making them a reality as quickly as possible. He’s said several times that Google should be employing 1 million engineers. With all of Google’s money, that’s actually possible.

The good news for the world is that Page’s goal of developing a pervasively connected AI that understands and provides for our every need is not about taking advantage of us.

He is, at heart, a passionate utopian — one who believes that technology has overwhelmingly made life better for humans and will only continue to do so.

In a question-and-answer session at a Google conference in 2013, Page told attendees that in the future, people would look back on how humans lived their lives today the same way we look back on our ancestors who spent all their time hunting and farming, as “crazy.”

In 2014, Page is living an alternate ending to the Nikola Tesla biography that made him cry when he was 12 years old.

Instead of ending his life destitute and ignored, Page, still just 41, will spend the final half of his life pouring billions of dollars and countless hours into his wildest visions.

“Anything you can imagine probably is doable,” Page told Google investors in 2012. “You just have to imagine it and work on it.”