Google honchos Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt promised they’d be short. And they were.
The three top Google execs deliberately truncated their April 20 financial results conference call remarks in order to leave time for more questions from the financial community. (For more on the company’s well-received April 20 quarterly report that exceeded expectations, point a Web browser here.)
But more time doesn’t necessarily mean Brin, Page or Schmidt were any more forthcoming than usual. Rather, they just had more questions to dance around, or so it seemed.
Not that there’s anything unusual about an executive ducking a question. Yet one of the biggest frustrations the financial community has with Google, on display during the conference call, is how close-mouthed it is. Google’s hesitance makes a financial analyst’s job that much harder to do, and that in turn negatively impacts Google investors to varying degrees.
As it continues to steam roll over other Internet search companies, Google has vowed to be more open. The last time was three months ago after Google posted its first-ever quarterly financial report that missed analysts’ targets, calculated, mind you, without any input from Google.
To be fair, Google executives in the latest conference call did seem to speak out more on certain topics. One was the firm’s wireless ambitions. CEO Eric Schmidt volunteered that the wireless Internet available to cell phones is a very big focus for Google right now, and the company has future services in mind that involve Google Local, its local shopping and mapping feature, and a newly patented transcoder technology.
“The notion of a transcoder is not a new one, it’s just that we think we have better one than anyone else,” Schmidt said on the call. “Mobile is a big strategic area. We have many, many more deals coming with mobile providers. It’s a big, big area for us.”
In a bit of additional openness, Schmidt also offered a rather sobering view of Google’s efforts in China, a big focus of the Internet search industry. When asked about the nation, he said, “Most surveys indicate we’re not No. 1, we’re No. 2 and holding, or gaining share in small amounts.”
Yet when it came time for the real litmus test as to how open Google is willing to be, the firm failed.
Unlike employees at other publicly-traded firms, Google executive have never offered financial projections, which serves as an excuse not to answer a lot of questions in a public setting. The same was true this time around.
At one point during the question and answer session, an analyst lobbed a query designed specifically so that Google couldn’t avoid the question by triggering the “forward projection” excuse.
Yet that’s just how the Google executive responded. The analyst could, or so it seems, only laugh in frustration.