That got me thinking about what I'd do in Page's shoes -- besides take a few thou from the petty cash drawer and upgrade to Berlutis!
In my next column, I'll outline 10 things I'd do as Google CEO. Had I known that Google was looking for Schmidt's successor, I'd have published that column sooner. (Hey, I meet Google's GPA requirements!)
Today, let's look back at my top 10 list from 2008 and see what's come of my delusions of grandeur.
1. Update the mission statement. Back then, I said Google needed to call a spade a spade and admit that it was out to do a lot more than "organize the world's information." While the song remains the same, the Google anthology now covers a much wider range of genres -- and file formats, for that matter!
2. Give everyone in the world a computer. My version of "no child left behind" had everyone getting a Google netbook to search till their heart's content. Little did I know that netbooks would be rendered obsolete by tablets. However, the opportunity remains for Google to further subsidize the cost of Android-powered devices to stimulate more searching.
3. Blanket the globe with free WiFi. Google may not have covered the globe, but it took care of the airports and planes that help people navigate it. (Meanwhile, I've flown over 1 million miles with American -- and all I get for free is a luggage tag!)
4. Buy TiVo, Comcast, Spot Runner and Blinkx. This was my suggestion for tackling the video/TV market. Google went the other way, launching Google TV and ultimately "snatching failure from the jaws of success."
5. Buy Motorola, JumpTap and Sprint Nextel. Google did stick a bit closer to my script when it came to mobile. It didn't buy Motorola, but it did partner to build a Google phone, the Droid. And Google didn't buy JumpTap, but it did acquire another mobile ad network, AdMob. And it didn't buy a carrier, but Google Voice has started to enable porting of phone numbers.
6. Buy Facebook. Clearly, this was a long shot -- but Facebook would've been a lot cheaper to buy in 2008! As I wrote back then, "The social graph is the key to taking search to the next level in terms of personalization, and I'm not sure Open Social will get Google the necessary traction -- at least not until FB joins up." Sure enough, Open Social languished and Facebook Connect took off. Meanwhile, Microsoft got deeper in bed with Facebook, incorporating the social graph into search results. Now, it appears Google's social strategy will be Sergey Brin's top priority.
7. Introduce display ads on the SERPs. Sure enough, Google finally caved on its aversion to showing image ads on search results. And it's now showing straight-up banners on Google Images results. We're still waiting for third-party ad serving to be made available so we can track post-impression activity -- so look for that on the list in my next column.
8. Launch a full-blown marketing campaign. Two words: Super Bowl.
9. Poke under the hood of the algorithm. As far as I know, no-one, not even Schmidt, was given the keys here. Although, maybe that's because the car can now drive itself!
10. Google myself, over and over and over and over. This never gets old!
What would you do as Google's CEO? Drop a comment and I'll consider working it into the list for my next column. I'll also be mining responses to Matt Cutts' recent call for "big ideas." Remember, the googlier, the better!