Why Eric Schmidt Won't Leave Google for Obama

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-10-20 Print this article Print

An interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal Oct. 20 notes that Google CEO Eric Schmidt is campaigning for U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama, appearing with him Tuesday in Florida to moderate a panel on the economy.

The WSJ paints Schmidt's move as a "push for a greater voice in politics," and at the conclusion, cites unnamed sources who suggest that Schmidt might covet the CTO role Obama has talked about creating.

This notion is absurd. Why would Schmidt leave the top job of the most powerful Internet company on the planet to be a technology manager, even if it's for the U.S. government? That's silly. Schmidt leads the one Internet company I can think of that can withstand a major recession thanks to its seemingly invincible search advertising business.

Another thought: Schmidt would be bored as the leader of technology for the government. Instead of watching his team sell Google Search Appliances or Google Apps to Uncle Sam, he would be licensing these things from Google for Uncle Sam. Where's the fun in that?

Perhaps the biggest thing to consider is that while Google may have won the search war versus Microsoft and others, Schmidt would love to take Internet Explorer (and perhaps even Windows) market share via Google's Chrome Web browser, and Microsoft Office share with Google Apps.

How sweet would it be from Schmidt's perspective to gouge Microsoft, which kicked his tail all over the place when he was CEO at Novell?

Last but not least, let us not forget the pact Schmidt made with Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page in 2004 to stick with Google for 20 years. Schmidt so he has roughly another 15 or 16 years to go toward fulfilling that pact.

Who knows what could happen in that time? Maybe Google can overthrow Microsoft in key areas on top of leading the world in search, online advertising and quite possibly mobile Web services by 2020 or so.

So no, Schmidt won't be leaving his position any time soon unless he gets burnt out or bored. Does anyone see that happening with the way Google is going? Drop me a line if you agree or disagree.

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