If I Were Running Google, Revisited

Two and a half years ago, I penned a column, "If I Were Running Google," where I laid out 10 things I'd do if I were at the helm of the Big G. It was fun to dream a little -- but never did I think anyone but Eric Schmidt would have the pleasure.

Then last week, Schmidt announced that he was stepping down as CEO and into an executive chairman role, with Larry Page claiming the spot atop the Googleplex. (Nice view, by the way!)

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!

4 comments about "If I Were Running Google, Revisited ".
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  1. George Pappachen from Kantar, January 26, 2011 at 12:01 p.m.


    The consolidation/buying spree part I don't seee as possible. google are having anti-trust issues as is. Just take a look at concessions comcast HAD to make to join with nbcu.


  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 26, 2011 at 12:55 p.m.

    As long as I could keep my income as it is, I would give 99% to a couple of chosen charities (your 2 ad 3 could at least have a partial inclusion) and the rest to slice a tiny bit off of the national debt (directly or indirectly). As CEO, there would be plenty of other opportunities to live very comfortably. It's a start in addition to maintain company sustenance and innovation. I'd probably use up a few of my nine lives, too, opening a mouth about a few things from a bully pulpit no one wants to be told or tell.

  3. Tracy Hill from Thillgroup, January 26, 2011 at 1:28 p.m.

    If I were running Google, I would buy Myspace, blend it with YouTube and own the web as far as music goes. Then I would create a Youtube/Vevo channel that connects to web-enabled TVs, Google TV, Androids, etc. for global domination. Hey, I can dream, can't I?

  4. Michael Sievers from DISH Network, January 26, 2011 at 4:43 p.m.

    I personally think that Google went the right way with the Google TV platform and I've said it before - I think it's amazing. It's at the right price point (at least DISH customers at $179), and is the only companion box on the market that is able to integrate with ones pay-TV equipment and allow for easy searching across multiple offerings (DVR/guide, Amazon/Netflix VOD, Youtube, etc). I say it's the best purchase I made in all of 2010. I'm glad that as an employee of DISH I was able to play with it back in September because I fell in love then. It's completely changed the way I watch TV.

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