Google without Larry Page Would Not Be Like Apple without Steve Jobs

larry page steve jobsIt is particular attention that the words that exploded onto Twitter came in the soft, strained voice that Larry Page has made a fixture of Google’s quarterly calls:

“However, I wanted to let you know that going forward, I won’t be joining every earnings call,” the Google co-founder and CEO said after introducing Google’s third-quarter results yesterday. Future calls, he said, would be left in the hands of CFO Patrick Pichette and Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora. “I know you all would love to have me on,” Page said, “but you are also depending on me to ruthlessly prioritize my time for the benefit of the business.”

Now the speculation blew up immediately that Page was stepping back from the calls because of a chronic condition that has left his vocal cords partially paralyzed. Yet the panic expected by some never ensued, and it likely wouldn’t even if Page were to step down altogether.

But instead of worrying about a Page-less future, investors sent Google’s stock soaring more than 13 percent today to top $1,000 a share for the first time. The boost came after Google’s profits jumped dramatically on an increase in paid clicks, which came even as the “cost per click” of the company’s ads continued to fall — in the past, a red flag for Wall Street.

Notably, the paid-click increase suggests that Google is getting better at what it already does best: crunching its vast trove of data to target people with links they will click. Ad prices haven’t turned around to catch up with that increased engagement from users because Google — just like everyone else — has yet to solve the clickability problem of mobile ads. They’re everywhere, but they’re just tiny and dull. One way to sidestep those issues would seem to be making the ads irresistibly relevant, which the company appears to be doing quite well.

While, Google’s impressive results suggest that Page’s decision to step back from at least one aspect of his public role doesn’t reflect that he is having any problem running the company effectively. Little more than a year ago, both Google and Apple shares were hitting their stride in the $700 range. [ ]

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