Google chairman Eric Schmidt and former product manager Jonathan Rosenberg are currently on tour promoting their new book How Google Works, and as the co-authors continue making their rounds, they’ve been engaging in some rather assertive interviews. This time around the duo stopped by Bloomberg’s Market Makers with hosts Erik Schatzker and Stephanie Ruhle. The group talked about the search giant’s biggest competitors like Apple, Yahoo, Amazon and others. Here are a few highlights from the 15 minute segment.
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Talking about innovation
SCHMIDT: But Google is not first and foremost about revenue or earnings. It’s about innovation and impact, and the employees believe that. When we started, our goal was to systematize innovation, to make innovation occur over and over again. And you’ll notice, by the way, it’s not just been in search. It’s also been in other internet platform things as well as applications and YouTube and now many things through Google (inaudible).
SCHATZKER: The only reason I brought up the revenue figure is because for other companies it seems to be a size problem. Once you get to be a certain size, it becomes difficult to innovate in a transformative way. You’ve got your legacy business, which is what you built the company on in the first place, and then they just seem to run out of good ideas. And I don’t know how much of that is a function of culture or leadership or management or what.
ROSENBERG: I think you – I think you try to focus on small teams and you try to focus on small teams that are chartered to attack big problems. One of the things that we say in the book is think 10X, not 10 percent. And that allows us to really attract people who are much more aggressive and much more interested about solving something grand like a self-driving car or giving people all over the world internet access who previously didn’t have it through balloons or much faster connections.
Apple and its new iPhones
RUHLE: You mentioned smartphones. How do you feel in the last week when you drive by any Apple store, San Francisco, LA, New York, and there are people lined up around the block? So even though way more people carry Android phones, how does Apple have that desire factor?
SCHMIDT: I’ll tell you what I think. Samsung had these products a year ago.
RUHLE: And nobody had a huge party. In the last month when Samsung came out with new products people weren’t losing their mind camping out. How does – what do you think about it?
SCHMIDT: I think Samsung had the products a year ago. That’s what I think.
About mixing business with Amazon and other competitors
SCHATZKER: Would it be better if it were something more than a duopoly?
SCHMIDT: It’s always good to have more competitors, but trust me, between Apple and Google you’re seeing enormous, enormous racing.
RUHLE: When you talk about brutal competition, how does it work? Amazon is a competitor as well as a partner. How do you balance the two, and do we believe it?
ROSENBERG: I’m sorry. Do we believe what?
RUHLE: Amazon, a partner and a competitor. How does that work?
ROSENBERG: As a competitor they certainly keep us on our toes, but as a partner they advertise on Google for a variety of their products and we work collectively to grow the pie and build the industry as opposed to fight over smaller portions.
SCHMIDT: And Amazon in fact is an Android user. Remember that Apple is a large Google search partner and a very tough Maps and phone competitor.
SCHATZKER: What about Alibaba? Friend or foe?
SCHMIDT: Largely – Alibaba’s largely been separated from everybody else because they’re primarily focused on China. They have done a fantastic job of anticipating the needs of the emerging middle class of China, and China is a very big place.
SCHATZKER: As Alibaba expands beyond China, and Jack Ma has been saying for the past several weeks that that’s very much what he has in mind, what opportunity is there for you?
SCHMIDT: Well firstly, Jack is incredibly clever and deserves all the credit that he’s getting for building the sort of – one of the great internet companies in the world. It remains to be seen how the Chinese model sort of moves outside of China. Most of the Chinese companies have had trouble exiting into other entrants, and this is the next great challenge for them. We’ll see. Obviously we partner them if we can.
RUHLE: But are you concerned about Jack Ma’s ability to acquire? Yes, he has a Chinese model, but he’s got an awful lot of money to buy some really big businesses here.
SCHMIDT: So does Google.
Schmidt and Rosenberg’s book just went on sale yesterday, so these types of interview are likely just getting started.
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