Thousands of chief executives, politicians, leaders of non-governmental organisations and media folk are once again assembled in Davos for their annual debates on how to improve the world. It is a worthy affair, with “stakeholders” discussing how best to combine business with societal good, like an ersatz global parliament.
Everywhere one looks, Google is doing remarkable things. It could soon overtake Apple in downloads of applications; it is developing self-driving cars; people wear its kooky augmented reality Glass spectacles; it is signing renewable power deals in South Africa and Sweden.
As Larry Page, Google’s chief executive, launches a new music subscription service and the company’s share price continues to climb, it’s worth nothing what a success he has so far been in the role – despite the doubters, including myself.
Larry Page, Google's chief executive
It isn’t often that the Daily Mail splashes on a US stock exchange announcement, so the fuss over Google’s botched disclosure of its third quarter results – and the plunge in its shares on Thursday – is a big event.
The lesson I take from it is that it is awfully hard for a public company to ignore the clamour of the stock market. Larry Page, Google’s chief executive, turned up on the earnings call to explain the premature release of the results, despite the medical condition that makes his voice hoarse.
When Google floated in 2004, Mr Page and Sergey Brin, his co-founder, insisted that they would ignore quarterly results and manage the business for the long term:
Larry Page returns to work at Google today as its chief executive, although he never went away in the first place, having spent a decade as “president of products” and part of the triumvirate that ran the company.
Still, with Eric Schmidt moving up to becoming “executive chairman” – usually an ambiguous term that means “the old chief executive who is not yet willing to relinquish the reins fully” – Mr Page appears to be back in charge of the company he co-founded with Sergey Brin.
The question is whether his return will reinvigorate Google to prevent it being knocked off its perch as the leading internet company by Facebook or others. Its search engine is still leader but search itself is increasingly under pressure.