Secrets of success from Google co-founder
He's just 35, but Lawrence Edward Page is already one of the most successful men on the planet.
Last year, Forbes ranked him as the 33rd richest man in the world and the 14th richest American. Though his personal fortune took a beating the economic crisis that steamrollered the world -- he lost $11.9 billion as his shares shed 59% of their value -- the Google co-founder does not have much to worry about.
The company that he co-founded with Sergey Brin in 1998 is today one of the most valued sites on the Internet. By the time it celebrated its 10th anniversary, its name has become part of everyday lexicon.
To learn more about Larry Page's mantras for success, in his own words,
Secrets of success from Google co-founder
# If you have a product that's really gaining a lot of usage, then it's probably a good idea.
# When you grow, you continually have to invent new processes. We've done a pretty good job keeping up, but it's an ongoing challenge.
# We built a business on the opposite message. We want you to come to Google and quickly find what you want. Then we're happy to send you to the other sites. In fact, that's the point. The portal strategy tries to own all of the information.
# Pretty early on, I saw a newspaper story about Googling dates. People were checking out who they were dating by Googling them. I think it's a tremendous responsibility. If you think everybody is relying on us for information, you understand the responsibility. That's mostly what I feel. You have to take that very seriously.
# Part of our brand is that we're pretty understated in what we do. If you look at other technology companies, they might preannounce things, and it will be a couple years before they really happen, and they don't happen in the way they said they would
# Through innovation and iteration, Google takes something that works well and improves upon it in unexpected ways.
# If you can run the company a bit more collaboratively, you get a better result, because you have more bandwidth and checking and balancing going on.
# The 'be good' concept also comes up when we design our products. We want them to have positive social effects. For example, we just released Gmail, a free e-mail service. We said, 'We will not hold your e-mail hostage. ' We will make it possible for you to get your e-mail out of Gmail if you ever want to.
# The dotcom period was difficult for us. We were dismayed in that climate... We knew a lot of things people were doing weren't sustainable, and that made it hard for us to operate. We couldn't get good people for reasonable prices. We couldn't get office space. It was a hypercompetitive time. We had the opportunity to invest in 100 or more companies and didn't invest in any of them. I guess we lost a lot of money in the short term -- but not in the long term.
# Talented people are attracted to Google because we empower them to change the world. Google has large computational resources and distribution that enables individuals to make a difference.
# We don't have as many managers as we should, but we would rather have too few than too many.
# We think we're an important company, and we're dedicated to doing this over the long term. We like being independent.
# Serving our end users is at the heart of what we do and remains our number one priority.
# It definitely helps to be really focused on what you are doing.
# My experience is that when people are trying to do ambitious things, they're all worried about failing when they start. But all sorts of interesting things spin out that are of huge economic value. Also, in these kinds of projects, you get to work with the best people and have a very interesting time. They're not really taking a risk, but they feel like they are
# From its inception, Google has focused on providing the best user experience possible. While many companies claim to put their customers first, few are able to resist the temptation to make small sacrifices to increase shareholder value. Google has steadfastly refused to make any change that does not offer a benefit to the users who come to the site.
# You (the Google user) want answers and you want them right now. Who are we to argue?
# Many leaders of big organisations don't believe that change is possible. But if you look at history, things do change, and if your business is static, you're likely to have issues.
# If we are not trusted, we have no business. We have such a lot to lose; we are forced to act in everyone's interest."
# I would rather have people think we're confused than let our competitors know what we're going to do
# We chose it (the name Google) because we deal with huge amounts of data. Besides, it sounds really cool.
# The ultimate search engine... would understand exactly what you mean and give back exactly what you want.
# Our company relies on having the trust of our users and using that information for their benefit. That's a very strong motivation for us. We're committed to that. If you start to mandate how products are designed, I think that's a really bad path to follow. I think instead we should have laws that protect the privacy of data, for example, from government requests and other kinds of requests.
# Many companies are under pressure to keep their earnings in line with analysts' forecasts. Therefore, they often accept smaller, predictable earnings rather than larger and less predictable returns. Sergey and I feel this is harmful, and we intend to steer in the opposite direction.
# We think a lot about how to maintain our culture and the fun elements. I don't know if other companies care as much about those things as we do. We spent a lot of time getting our offices right. We think it's important to have a high density of people. People are packed together everywhere. We all share offices. We like this set of buildings because it's more like a densely packed university campus than a typical suburban office park.
# We're trying to use the web's self-organising properties to decide which things to present. We don't want to be in the position of having to decide these things. We take the responsibility seriously. People depend on us.
# Google is organised around the ability to attract and leverage the talent of exceptional technologists and business people. We have been lucky to recruit many creative, principled and hard working stars. We hope to recruit many more in the future. We will reward and treat them well.
# By always placing the interests of the user first, Google has built the most loyal audience on the web. And that growth has come not through TV ad campaigns, but through word of mouth from one satisfied user to another.
# You don't want to be Tesla. He was one of the greatest inventors, but it's a sad, sad story. He couldn't commercialise anything, he could barely fund his own research. You'd want to be more like Edison. If you invent something, that doesn't necessarily help anybody. You've got to actually get it into the world; you've got to produce, make money doing it so you can fund it.
# Invariably we try 10 things that don't quite work out in order to do one thing that's successful. And we learn a lot in doing the 10 things that didn't quite work.
# We have a mantra: don't be evil, which is to do the best things we know how for our users, for our customers, for everyone. So I think if we were known for that, it would be a wonderful thing.
# We think a lot about how to maintain our culture and the fun elements. I don't know if other companies care as much about those things as we do.
# It is an advantage being young. You don't have as many other responsibilities.
# If you have a great product that meets people's needs, they start telling their friends, especially when it's a search engine, which is something that everybody has to use. So we've actually been growing 20 per cent per month, compounded, for our whole history, and without spending any significant money on advertising. It's an incredible phenomenon.
# We were, I guess, lucky enough to be trying to be profitable long before it was fashionable, and that was a really good decision. I think it's more luck than real insight on our parts, but Sergey and I really felt a lot better about having a business that could actually make money. So we figured that once we were at that stage then not much could hurt the company
# We are focused on providing an environment where talented, hard working people are rewarded for their contributions to Google and for making the world a better place
# The amazing thing is that we're part of people's daily lives, like brushing their teeth. It's just something they do throughout the day while working, buying things, deciding what to do after work and much more. Google has been accepted as part of people's lives. It's quite remarkable. Most people spend most of their time getting information, so maybe it's not a complete surprise that Google is successful.
# Our goal is to organise the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. That's our mission. When we started, we had about 30 million Web pages, which was quite large for the time -- that was two years ago. Now, we have well over a billion Web pages. So that gives you some idea of how we've grown in content. So we try to make more and more stuff available to people. We try to, when you come to Google, fulfill that need that you have as quickly as possible.
# Because of our employee talent, Google is doing exciting work in nearly every area of computer science. Our main benefit is a workplace with important projects, where employees can contribute and grow.
# We've actually been very deliberate about making all of our decisions in a way that minimises the risk that we will go out of business basically. We have pretty conservative financial planning. That turned out to be really smart, and we've had tremendous viral growth anyway, so we haven't really had any marketing expenses or things like that and we have huge volumes.
# The increasing volume of information is just more opportunity to build better answers to questions. The more information you have, the better.
# You can try to control people, or you can try to have a system that represents reality. I find that knowing what's really happening is more important than trying to control people.
# In the same way Google puts users first when it comes to our online service, Google Inc. puts employees first when it comes to daily life in our Googleplex headquarters.
# Technology knowledge is going to drive wealth: people's ability to deal with technology and to build interesting things.
# Always deliver more than expected.
# It is a tremendous responsibility for us to have all eyes focused on what we do and to give people exactly what they need when they ask for it.
# We believe it is easy to be penny wise and pound foolish with respect to benefits that can save employees considerable time and improve their health and productivity.
# Our opportunity and responsibility has continued to expand. It doesn't feel all that different to me than it did a few years ago.
# The thing that matters is experience. We have lots of executives from failed companies; they learned a lot from these things. They say, 'We can't do that -- we tried that and it didn't work.' So failure is useful.
# When you have basic technology you find interesting things to do with them, and if you're lucky they'll turn into something big