Google CEO Larry Page Bows Out of Conference Calls

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) -- Google CEO Larry Page told analysts Thursday that he has decided to stop making regular appearances on the Internet search leader's quarterly earnings conference calls so he can spend more time running the business. He is delegating the duties to Patrick Pichette, Google's chief financial officer, and Nikesh Arora, the company's chief business officer. Both men already had been fixtures on the calls since Page become CEO in April 2011.

Before bowing out, Page sat through the rest of Thursday's hour-long call and answered questions.

Page, 40, missed an earnings call last year because of an ailment on his vocal chords that made it difficult for him to talk. Although his voice remains raspy, Page didn't mention that as a reason for skipping the calls. He said he wants to devote more time to running the company and helping Google's engineers build great products.

One analyst wondered about Google's business plans for one of its far-flung projects, the effort to build self-driving cars. The computer-controlled vehicles already have been cruising roads on an experimental basis for several years.

Question: Can you talk specifically about self-driving cars? I realize it's way down the road, but how real is this as a business?

Answer: I think running the innovation and saying you overestimate short-term and underestimate long-term, and that's probably a good summary for self-driving cars. I think we've made tremendous progress. We've driven large amounts of miles. We've changed the business from being something that wasn't going to happen at all to something that now is somewhat inevitable, and people's feelings about it, which I think is tremendous progress. That said, it's still pretty early days for the product. I don't know exactly what we've been saying, but it's still ways from being a commercial product. You know, probably overestimate that in the short-term, like I said, and underestimate that in the long-term.

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