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If you like Sergey Brin and Larry Page's story, you might also like:
Timothy Berners-Lee,
Jeff Bezos,
Stephen Case,
Michael Dell,
Lawrence Ellison,
Bill Gates,
John Hennessy,
Ray Kurzweil
and Pierre Omidyar

Larry Page can also be seen and heard in our Podcast Center

Sergey Brin's recommended reading:
Snow Crash

Related Links:
History of Google
Official Google Bios
Forbes.com

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Larry Page
 
Larry Page
Profile of Larry Page Biography of Larry Page Interview with Larry Page Larry Page Photo Gallery

Larry Page Interview (page: 3 / 3)

Founding CEO, Google Inc.

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  Larry Page

Where do you go from here? What do you see yourself doing in ten or 20 years?


Larry Page: I think Google is great because, basically 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.

[ Key to Success ] Vision


Larry Page Interview Photo
We have all this data. If you printed out the index, it would be 70 miles high now. We have all this computation. We have about 6,000 computers. So we have a lot of resources available. We have enough space to store like 100 copies of the whole Web. So you have a really interesting sort of confluence of a lot of different things: a lot of computation, a lot of data that didn't used to be available. From an engineering and scientific standpoint, building things to make use of this is a really interesting intellectual exercise. So I expect to be doing that for a while. On the other hand, I do have a lot of other interests as well. I am really interested in transportation and sustainable energy. For fun, I invent things on the side, but I don't really have time to follow up on them.

What do they think of people like you at Stanford and Michigan? You are extraordinary people they're sending out into the world.

Larry Page Interview Photo
Larry Page: Well, thank you. It was kind of strange for me. I went back to Michigan and there was all this faculty who wanted to meet with me. It was just very strange, going from a student to that. At Google, especially, we are really lucky. Everybody is our product! Or it's starting to be everybody. No matter who you talk to, they're like, "Oh, Google today was great. I found exactly what I needed." Somehow we've done a really good job. People are really happy with our company, and we have provided pretty good service. So that sort of transfers onto how people interact with me as well, which is really nice.

It used to be that a Ph.D. candidate hoped to have his or her dissertation published in some obscure academic journal. Your dissertation started a company and launched you on a career.

Larry Page: There are a lot of students at Stanford who have started companies based on their research work. I think Stanford does a pretty good job with that. There is obviously a lot of infrastructure, but also there is an acceptance of it, which I think is good.

Is there an expectation?

Larry Page: There is sort of a joke that faculty members have to start a company before they get tenure. I don't think that's quite true. The faculty are very focused on what is going on in the world, which I think is a good thing. The danger is if you're not doing research because you are pushed into things that are just practical.

Larry Page Interview Photo
Sergey, to ask you a different question, what would you like to be remembered for, down the road?

Sergey Brin: In terms of being remembered, I think I want to make the world a better place. That's a pretty generic answer, but I mean it in several ways. One is through Google, the company, in terms of giving people access to information. I'm sure I will do other endeavors in terms of technologies and businesses. The second is just through philanthropy. I don't have a significant amount of wealth beyond that on paper right now, but I hope that I have the opportunity to direct resources to the right places. I think that is the most important thing to me. I don't think my quality of life is really going to improve that much with more money.

Larry Page, what do you see as the responsibilities that go along with success and the accumulation of wealth that we are seeing in Silicon Valley today?

Larry Page Interview Photo
Larry Page: I think there is tremendous responsibility. If I was not in this situation, my biggest concern would be the concentration of wealth and power in a very small number of people. On the other hand, it is nice to be rewarded for what you do. There are a lot of things I would like to do in the world that having a lot of resources would really help with.

What do you want to do?

Larry Page: I have been really interested in applying technology to transportation. I don't think that has really been done. Making cars better. There are a lot of interesting systems people have designed that basically are small monorails that run along sidewalks, and that route you exactly where you want to go. Some of these things are actually quite practical. As a side interest, I have kind of followed this stuff. When I was in Michigan, I tried to get them to build a monorail between central and north campus, because it is only a two-mile trip, and they have 40 full-sized diesel buses that run back and forth. Two miles! So that's a prime candidate for new transportation.

Is there any reason for you to go back to Stanford and finish your degree? You have taken leave of absence from Stanford to be a CEO. Why bother to go back at all?

Larry Page Interview Photo
Larry Page: Well, I think Stanford is a really great place. There's really, really smart people around, and it's really a fun place to be. Some people from other startups have gone back when things sort of calmed down. So it does happen. There are things I want to work on that are very speculative, and Stanford is a great place to do things like that. I didn't start out building a search engine. I just said, "Oh, the links on the Web are probably interesting. Why don't we try doing something with that?" I was pretty lucky that it was a useful thing to do. If you're doing something you're not sure is going to work at all, a company probably isn't the right place to be doing it. Having incredibly bright people around to work with is a really nice thing. I could see going back for that purpose.

Will we see Larry Page Hall erected on the Stanford campus anytime soon?

Larry Page: Boy, I think I'd rather not have stuff named after me.

Thank you very much for talking with us. You guys are something. You really are.

Larry Page Interview, Page: 1   2   3   


This page last revised on Oct 18, 2010 14:42 EDT
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