Larry Page is the co-founder and CEO of Alphabet (GOOG -1.24%) (GOOGL -1.02%), the holding company for Google and the diverse menagerie of Other Bets the company has more recently spawned. He's also the 11th richest person on Earth and an avid kiteboarder, both of which I discovered by asking the search engine his company created.
Having accomplished so much by the tender age of 43, it's safe to say Larry Page stands as one of the most powerful and influential figures in business today. Let's examine a few interesting quotes from the Alphabet co-founder on a wide range of subjects.
Larry Page on business and technology
Many of us think of Larry Page, his co-founder Sergey Brin, and Alphabet's longtime third-in-command Eric Schmidt as genius inventors, and that's certainly true -- to an extent. Each member of Alphabet's famous triumvirate is a talented computer scientist, to be sure. However, Page will also be the first to admit that Alphabet's overwhelming success didn't come from inventing the search engine, but rather from bringing this technology to the masses:
Invention is not enough. Tesla invented the electric power we use, but he struggled to get it out to people. You have to combine both things: invention and innovation focus, plus the company that can commercialize things and get them to people.
In the years since its founding, Alphabet has developed an incredibly diverse suite of products. And though advertising from a few core products still generates the bulk of its sales, it's clear that Page sees his company's broader mission as less tethered to any one product as it is simply creating great technology:
We want to build technology that everybody loves using, and that affects everyone. We want to create beautiful, intuitive services and technologies that are so incredibly useful that people use them twice a day. Like they use a toothbrush. There aren't that many things people use twice a day.
One of the most defining characteristics of the technology industry, perhaps more so than most industries, is its propensity for constant change. Continually thriving in this environment requires constant reinvention and an eye to the future. Here's how Page frames this business challenge in his own words:
Lots of companies don't succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future. I try to focus on that: What is the future really going to be? And how do we create it? And how do we power our organization to really focus on that and really drive it at a high rate?
Without question, one of the areas of greatest interest in tech today lies in AI, or artificial intelligence, an area of clear longtime interest for Page. In fact, this quote from all the way back in 2000 shows just how long Page and his counterparts at Alphabet have been thinking about this topic, which only recently became the tech topic de jour:
Artificial intelligence would be the ultimate version of Google. So we have the ultimate search engine that would understand everything on the Web. It would understand exactly what you wanted, and it would give you the right thing. That's obviously artificial intelligence, to be able to answer any question, basically, because almost everything is on the Web, right? We're nowhere near doing that now. However, we can get incrementally closer to that, and that is basically what we work on. And that's tremendously interesting from an intellectual standpoint.
Larry Page on leadership and life
Like many business moguls, Page is often sought out for insight on topics beyond technology and business. As the man tasked with guiding a global organization, Page knows something of leadership as well. Here's how the billionaire articulates his thinking on the matter:
My job as a leader is to make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, and that they feel they're having a meaningful impact and are contributing to the good of society. As a world, we're doing a better job of that. My goal is for Google to lead, not follow that.
Though some argue it has waned as its size has increased, Alphabet also gained acclaim thanks to its unique corporate culture. In fact, the company served as the poster child for tech's corporate culture, and it's clear that its more open and casual ethos came from the top down, as Page once said:
It's important that the company be a family, that people feel that they're part of the company, and that the company is like a family to them. When you treat people that way, you get better productivity.
However, despite Alphabet's overwhelming success and bullish outlook, it's clear that Page's motivation to co-found the company lay outside the possible fame and fortune it eventually wrought. To a surprising degree, this somewhat counterintuitive sentiment appears as a common thread throughout the careers of many of business' most successful leaders. Page nicely summarized his own attitudes toward material pursuits in the following way:
If we were motivated by money, we would have sold the company a long time ago and ended up on a beach.
Changing the world requires a unique -- some might say lucky -- mix of timing and ability, and Page clearly fits the bill in both regards. The man helped create one of the most powerful technology companies the world has ever known, and he's likely just getting started. Especially with presumably so much time left to further Alphabet's ambitions, it will be fascinating to see what the road ahead holds for one of the digital age's most renowned names.