Larry Page’s Wired Interview: Innovation Is Nothing Without Commercialization

The CEO of Google is revealed as a “moon shot” man, and who believes in 1,000% improvements, not the 10% that most CEOs aim for.

Larry Page’s Wired Interview: Innovation Is Nothing Without Commercialization

Larry Page, cofounder and CEO of Google, which has just announced the creation of a brand new £1-billion HQ in London’s King’s Cross, has given a wide-ranging interview to Wired‘s Steven Levy. In it, the billionaire, of whom Levy says, “Some Googlers wonder if Page, clearly at his happiest working on moon shots, is essentially taking one for the team by assuming the sometimes prosaic tasks of a CEO.” Here, in a nutshell, are some of the juiciest tidbits of the piece.

  • Incremental improvement will, says Page, become obsolete–especially in technology. He sees his job as “to get people focused on things that are not just incremental.” By that tenet, Google’s launch of Gmail was “a leap… not something that would have happened naturally if we had been focusing on incremental improvements.”
  • The commercial aspect of an invention is just as important as the invention itself. “When I was growing up, I wanted to be an inventor. Then I realized there’s a lot of sad stories about inventors like Nikola Tesla, amazing people who didn’t have much impact, because they never turned their inventions into businesses.”
  • “A great deal of my effort is spent making sure that we have a great user experience across our core products.”
  • “How well is [Steve Jobs‘s thermonuclear war on Android] working?”
  • “At the time we bought Android, it was pretty obvious that the existing mobile operating systems were terrible. You couldn’t write software for them. Compare that to what we have now.”
  • “We had real issues with how our users shared information, how they expressed their identity and so on. And yeah, [Facebook] is a company that’s strong in that space. But they’re also doing a really bad job on their products.”
  • “I do think the Internet’s under much greater attack than it has been in the past. Governments are now afraid of the Internet because of the Middle East stuff, and so they’re a little more willing to listen to what I see as a lot of commercial interests that just want to make money by restricting people’s freedoms. I think that governments fight users’ freedoms at their own peril.”

Finally, a look at the philanthropist in him. Page is paying for free flu shots for kids in the whole Bay Area after he saw epidemiological behavior on Google Search’s flu-tracking service.

[Image by Flickr user Fimoculous]

About the author

My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S.