Google's Larry Page: 10 Lessons From His First Year as CEO

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2012-04-04

Google's Larry Page: 10 Lessons From His First Year as CEO

Google CEO Larry Page has been in his position for a year now. As the head of the company he€™s founded, he€™s watched the firm generate billions of dollars in revenue, build up its cash reserves and put intense competitive pressure on countless competitors. From a financial perspective, it€™s hard to see any way that Page and his management team have done a less-than-stellar job or how they might do better. Certainly most investors might agree that the chances are that Google will only continue to grow and prosper in future years.

But as with any other executive, Page needs to look back at his last year and evaluate how he handled certain issues. More importantly, he should analyze the market dynamics that prompted him to make certain decisions throughout the year. Simply put, Larry Page can learn a bunch of lessons from his first year as Google CEO, and if he commits them to memory, he€™ll be far more likely to succeed.

Read on to find out what sort of lessons Larry Page should consider from his first year as Google CEO.

1. Patents are a continuing concern

If nothing else, Page should have learned in the past year that patents are a huge concern. From Apple to Oracle to Motorola, just about every company is engaged in a patent lawsuit somewhere around the world. Page and his company have to be well-prepared to fight legal attacks€”especially the one from Oracle€”and keep building up Google€™s patent portfolio to fend off new lawsuits.

2. Regulators aren€™t friendly to Google

The European Union€™s Competition Commission is currently determining whether to launch a formal antitrust investigation into Google€™s search practices. The company has also been hit hard by regulators in the U.S. At this point, Page should have learned from his first year that regulators just aren€™t friendly to the search giant.

3. Social networking is a tough nut to crack

During Page€™s first year as CEO, he watched his company€™s social network, Google+, grow. However, he also watched Facebook and Twitter continue to dominate the space. Unfortunately for Page, social networking is a tough nut to crack. At least right now, his company isn€™t anywhere close to posing a serious challenge to the social networking leaders.

4. Tablets aren€™t smartphones

Although Android has soared to a strong position in the smartphone market, the tablet space is a different story altogether. Apple€™s iPad is the dominant force in the tablet market right now, and so far, none of Google€™s third-party vendors has been able to change that. Page should try to find a way to address his company€™s tablet issues this year.

Hardware Might Be a Smart Next Step for Google


5. Apple Remains Google€™s Biggest Mobile Market Threat

Although Google has been able to outpace Apple in the mobile space, thanks to Android, the iPhone maker is a massively successful company that could eventually dwarf every other IT corporation around the world. For Google, that€™s a major threat€”and something Page didn€™t adequately address in the last year.

6. Better China relations are important

Although Google was once a favorite of the Chinese government, it has fallen out of favor. Unfortunately for Google, that could be a major liability. The Chinese market is important for many global companies, and Google is no different. The time has come for Page to start playing nice with China or face serious issues with growth in the coming years.

7. Google can handle itself

One of the most important lessons Page learned last year is that he really isn€™t all that necessary. Eric Schmidt led a company that was practically capable of managing itself and generating serious amounts of cash without too much intervention from the chief executive. As CEO, he should avoid micromanaging the company and avoid keeping a heavy hand on the management controls.

8. Honing PR skills is a big advantage

When Larry Page and Sergey Brin first started Google, they knew nothing about handling media. They didn€™t improve all that much over the years. But in the last year, as chief executive, Page has been forced to learn public relations and how to convey a message to the public. He€™s not a professional at it yet, but he has improved.

9. Hardware might be the next step

Looking back at the past year, Google has slowly but surely inched its way toward hardware. The company€™s pending Motorola Mobility acquisition might be the best proof of that. Yet so far, Page has balked at bringing hardware to his company€™s operation. With Apple making so much money with hardware, though, it might be about time to add hardware to Google€™s product lineup.

10. Acquisitions are important

Finally, it€™s important to point out that acquisitions have proved extremely important to Google€™s business. The pending Motorola Mobility acquisition will help improve the company€™s patents position, while smaller deals have improved the company€™s many other applications and services. Acquisitions will continue to be important for Google€™s future growth.

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