Google's CEO, Larry Page, presented the Zeitgeist 2012 in the UK a couple days ago. The presentation was titled "Beyond Today" and gives a glimpse into what direction Google is headed.
Google published the 20 minute speech on YouTube for you all to watch. I have also posted the transcript below:
Here is the transcript:
0:07>>Larry Page: If you guys are going to take my picture, I will take your picture, too.
0:12Let me share that with the whole company. Okay. Done.
0:23So, it was a great session. A little bit of a hard act to follow. I was -- I'm upset if
0:30I have to follow Peter. So thank you, Peter. I think that these are obviously the Google
0:37Glass. It is only "glass" because it is only on one side. But it is still in a bit of an
0:44early stage, but I'm really excited to be able to have one and to have it working. And
0:50it was pretty exciting. I just talked to our London Googlers, too,
0:55and I showed it to them. They were very excited about it.
0:57It doesn't yet show me all of your names, but I'm really glad that you are all here.
1:04I think that -- And I really want to thank everyone for coming and for spending time
1:09with us. It seems like you're all having a good time.
1:13Partnership is really important to Google. We've been a company that's had a lot of partners
1:17and lot of business relationships. I think that's been really important to Google's success,
1:22and I hope it's important to all of you as well and to your success.
1:26So it has been about a year since I became CEO again, and I wanted to share a little
1:31bit of an update on what's happened and what my priorities have been and what we've been
1:35doing. So I think the -- the first thing, I'd say
1:40is that it is easy to think about technology as being relatively static. You know, Google
1:45is a search engine. We've done these various things for a long time and not much changes.
1:51But that's not really what's happening. I think that the pace of change is really accelerating.
1:56And, you know, there is more devices being sold every day than there ever has been. People
2:01are more interested in them. They're spending more money and more time using their phones
2:06and everything else. And I think it's really exciting to see that
2:09everyone in the world is going to get a smartphone now. And for many people, for most people
2:15probably in the world, it's going to be their first computer.
2:18And it is really -- you know, it is not a question of "if" now, it is just a question
2:21of "when." You know you are going to have a smartphone and it is going to be connected
2:25to the Internet and you are going to be able to do amazing, amazing things.
2:29Now, it's hard -- even those of us in the industry, it is pretty hard for us to predict
2:35what's going to happen 5, 10, 15, 25 years from now.
2:41We do know things will look really different, and it's -- again, it is easy to -- it is
2:46easy to forget that. I don't think five years from now I'm going to be carrying a phone
2:50where if I drop it, it is going to splatter into pieces because it is basically a thin
2:54piece of glass. I'm sure that's not going to be the case.
2:58So there's going to be a lot of change in ways that really affect us and will really
3:02change our lives. Now, for Google, you know, what should we
3:08be doing? We should really be focusing on really important things that are going to
3:11matter a lot. And we took a look at what we were doing and
3:16we thought, Well, we have an awful lot of products, some of which people don't seem
3:19to care that much about. So we went through and we -- we went through kind of a painful
3:24process where we shut down or closed over 30 different things.
3:28And we also made our products visually better. You know, we made them much more coherent.
3:35And I think that -- you know, I think that it's really important that when you use technology,
3:43you know, you don't see our organization chart or you don't see all of our different products.
3:47It just works together beautifully. And we believe technology should really do
3:52the hard work for you, rather than you having to do the hard work. And that means that,
3:57you know, it should handle communication, discovery, memory, you know, things like that
4:02that might be difficult for you. And that means that you all can do what makes
4:06you happiest, which is living and loving and really enjoying your life.
4:10Now, let me talk about some of our areas of focus as a company.
4:15The first one, for the last year, has been Google+ which is our social efforts, and people
4:22are a bit confused about this. I'd say that we think it's really important that when you're
4:26using Google, you be able to easily share things. You know, I just shared the photo
4:31of all of you with the company, and I did that in a few seconds. And the reason I was
4:35able to do that is using Google+. You know, I had circles set up for the company, and
4:41that sharing was consistent. And, you know, I think that we've had tremendous
4:48success with that, you know, around things like photos. You know, you can take a photo
4:51now also on your Android phone and share it and have it uploaded automatically and share
4:56it really easily. And, you know, we have over 170 million people
5:00now that are, you know, participating in that, that have upgraded, you know, of Google+.
5:05And the other part where people are a little bit confused about what we're doing, that's
5:09the social spine of Google. That means everything in Google gets better by being able to share
5:14and have identity and things like that. The other part of Google+ is the product itself,
5:21where you can follow people, you can read your stream and so on, and that's a social
5:26network and it's starting from a growth -- it started from zero people and it's grown a
5:32lot and it's grown much faster than any other social network ever has.
5:38But it's starting from zero, it's not starting from Google on day one.
5:41You know, I have -- I think I have over 2 million followers now on Google+. There's
5:46a whole bunch of people with over a million people. And we've been really excited about
5:51the growth there, and the pace at which it's growing, but it will take some time. We're
5:56starting it from scratch. So let me talk a little bit about search,
6:00too. I think that's a really big area of focus for us, and it's an area where, you know,
6:05I think if you used Google from five years ago, you'll be astounded at how bad it is.
6:11Or how bad it was, right? And, you know, search has gotten a lot better.
6:16You don't always see it because we change it every day and we try not to distract you
6:20too much with changes, but when I think -- one of the things I'm most proud of that we did
6:26recently is that I have a friend at Google called Ben Smith, and that's a very common
6:34name in the U.S. You know, Smith's the most common last name. And it's very -- it was
6:40difficult to find him before. But now actually with Google+ and with our understanding of
6:45all that, you know, when I search for Ben Smith, I actually get the Ben Smith that I
6:49know and he actually appears in the search box and there's a little picture of him. And
6:54if that's not the Ben Smith I want, I can, you know, delete him and put a different one
6:59in. But I'm actually searching for that person
7:02rather than the string, the combination of letters. And that's a really big deal for
7:07Google and it's a really important thing. We don't want to just do that with people.
7:14Also maybe in the last week or so, we released this thing called the Knowledge Graph, or
7:22Knowledge Panels, we're calling them, and those actually give you -- if you search for
7:26"Tesla" now, "Tesla," then you get the car and you get the scientist, and we know lots
7:34of things about them. So, you know, if you search about, you know,
7:38a different -- a lake or something like that, we'll know the depth of the lake.
7:43And what we're really trying to do is to really get to the point where we can represent knowledge
7:47and we can do much more complicated types of queries. What are the 20 deepest lakes?
7:53What are the highest market cap companies? Or whatever. Things like that where we really
7:57understand what that query means, rather than just give you, you know, the exact text that
8:03matches best on some Web page that's somewhere. And so we're really looking at synthesizing
8:08knowledge and I'm incredibly excited about that.
8:12Now, search also is not just about finding things. It's really about taking actions,
8:17and, you know, when you're doing searches, a lot of times you want to actually do things.
8:22You don't want to just look at 10 different links but you want to actually buy something
8:27or you want to book a flight or you want to know what the weather is, you know, right
8:32there. And we've been doing a lot of this work over
8:35the years. You know, a lot of it requires deep partnerships with probably many people
8:39in the room to make sure that we have access to the right kind of data, the right business
8:44models, to make all that work. But ultimately in search we really want you
8:47to be able to take actions. And that's even more important on mobile,
8:52right? Where you have very limited screen space, you have the limited ability to do
8:57things. It's really important that you be able to
9:00get directions, for example. We've worked very hard on maps. You know, on your phone,
9:06you can get directions right from your current location or you can pay easily for something
9:10using your mobile phone, by using NFC payments which we're really excited about.
9:16Now, you know, in talking about mobile, I think that -- you know, I remember actually
9:24I visited our London office many, many years ago and they actually had a closet in our
9:29London office where we do a lot of our mobile development and they had a closet full of
9:34100 phones. And the reason why we had that closet is that's what was necessary, actually,
9:40to make our phone software work. And at the time, it actually didn't work very well. I
9:46don't know if you remember using a phone, you know, five, seven, eight years ago, but,
9:51you know, you were lucky to be able to -- you could make a phone call but that was about
9:55it. You know, you couldn't get maps or directions or upload your photos or anything like that.
10:00And we were really, really frustrated by that, and that's why we developed Android.
10:06And, you know, if you think back, you know, at the time when we realized that, it wasn't
10:10obvious that, you know, there was going to be a good way of making a software platform
10:15for phones that would get adopted by everyone and all that, but Android's really on fire
10:19now, which I probably don't have to tell you all, and it's very, very exciting.
10:26It's a big area of focus for us, obviously. Now, you know, one of the things -- I'm talking
10:32about having a really, you know, integrated, beautiful experience. You know, on Chrome
10:37on Android, you can actually get all of your tabs that you see on your desktop. If you're
10:42signed in, you're logged in with us, you can get all the tabs you have open that you have
10:48on your desktop and you can hit the "Back" button and it will go back or you can get
10:52all the things that you have available there and it's just an amazing, beautiful, seamless
10:56experience. And that's really what we're aiming for, as
10:59a company. Now, another example of that is Google Play,
11:06which we recently released, you know, where you can basically have any movies, books,
11:10apps, or games, all accessible from the web or your phone and you don't have to sync.
11:16You know, you don't have to use cables, you don't have to download anything, it just works.
11:21And that's, again, really what we're -- what we're aiming for.
11:23Now, you know, I talked a little bit about focusing the company, and, you know, I think
11:30that I want to talk a little bit about making some big bets.
11:34And, you know, we always try to concentrate on the long term, what we're doing for the
11:39long term, and, you know, I think that, you know, many of the things we started up that
11:45are really big now, like Chrome, were seen as kind of crazy when we launched them.
11:50And so how do we decide what to do? What -- you know, how do we decide what's really important
11:54to work on? Well, I like to call it the toothbrush test.
11:59So the toothbrush test is: Do you use it as often as you use your toothbrush? For most
12:04people, I guess that's twice a day. Raise your hands. Twice a day? Yeah. Okay. Most
12:09people. So I think, you know, we really want things
12:13like that, and I think things like Gmail, obviously you use much more than twice a day,
12:20and YouTube, you know, I think that those things are amazing. And I think that -- you
12:26know, when we at things like YouTube, people thought, "Oh, you guys are never going to
12:31make money with that. You bought it for $1.4 billion. You're totally crazy." And we're
12:36reasonably crazy, but it was a good bet. And we've actually been doubling revenue every
12:43year on YouTube for four years, and actually if you're doubling things, it starts to add
12:48up pretty quickly, even no matter where you start from.
12:54So I think that's a good example of the -- how sort of our philosophy is. That we see things
13:00that people use a lot, that they're going to -- that are going to be really important
13:04to them, and we think that usually you can make money from those things over time. You
13:08know, a well-run technology business can be monetized over time.
13:14And I think also having the courage to kind of fail on these things. You know, our AdSense,
13:21which is how, you know, we help other partners monetize their Web sites, that was the result
13:27of a failed experiment to understand the web. So the way in which we target advertisements
13:33to Web pages was -- was a failed result to better understand the web and to actually
13:39improve search. So I think you really got to be prepared to
13:42try ambitious things, which really leads me to my next point.
13:48So I was a student at the University of Michigan, and I went to this sort of summer leadership
13:54course, and their slogan was to have a healthy disregard for the impossible. A healthy disregard
14:01for the impossible. And I think that's a really good slogan.
14:06And that's really stuck with me in all those years. And I think that, you know, it sounds
14:11kind of nuts, but it's often easier to make progress when you're really ambitious, and
14:16the reason is that you actually don't have any competition because no one else is willing
14:21to try those things, and you also get all the best people because the best people want
14:26to work on the most ambitious things. And, you know, I've been really struck by
14:32this over the years. One of the projects I wanted to talk about was we have this project
14:36for self-driving cars. You know, and that seems really crazy. You're like, how can a
14:41car possibly drive itself? You know, how's that ever going to work?
14:46And, you know, we've had a team working on that and we've driven over 200,000 miles now
14:52with no incidents. And it's really amazing to ride in one of
14:57these cars. It's just almost a life-changing experience. You sit down, you drive through
15:01the parking lot, and you're like "Why am I driving," you know?
15:04It's just an amazing, amazing experience. And think about -- you know, I have young
15:08children. I'm sure many of you do as well. Think about your children. By the time that
15:12they're old enough to drive, there's no reason we can't have technology that helps them -- teaches
15:17them to drive and learn all the things they need to know. And that's like almost, I think,
15:22the leading cause of death, actually, for kids as they learn to drive. I mean, it's
15:26a big deal. So I think, you know, my point was that I
15:30think in technology, if we take some ambitious bets, we really have an amazing ability to
15:37transform people's lives. Yesterday I was in New York City with Mayor
15:44Bloomberg and we announced this effort -- you know, they have a new technology school going
15:50into Manhattan onto Roosevelt Island, and I think that's really exciting thing, and
15:57Google contributed space to incubate this new school, which is Cornell and Technion.
16:05And the reason why I think that's important is I think that there's tremendous things
16:09that are possible in the world through technology and we have relatively few people working
16:14on those things. We're not developing a lot of new scientists
16:17and engineers. It's probably, you know, well under 1% of the population in most developed
16:25countries. And I think a lot of our progress really comes from those people and their partnerships
16:30with businesses and other things to really make things happen.
16:37So I think, you know, I'm trying to give you a very positive world view, but I think, you
16:40know, anything you can imagine probably is doable, right? You just have to imagine it
16:45and work on it. And things that we thought were almost impossible
16:50-- so we were interested in machine translation. There is services on the web. We had licensed
16:56one which could translate between different languages. And obviously for search, you know,
17:01if you can't -- if the information's not in your language, we can't find it for you.
17:06And most information is not in your language, right? This is sort of a -- by definition.
17:12And so we thought, well, it would be great if we could provide search results for any
17:16language for any query, and so we really focused on that problem. And we focused on it and
17:22we developed Google Translate, and we found some machine learning researchers and we said,
17:27"Do you think you can translate, you know, between any languages and do it better than
17:31an average human translator?" And they said -- they laughed at us, and said,
17:35"No, we can't possibly do that." But they actually were willing to try.
17:39And, you know, six years later, we can translate between 64 languages, and it's amazing, actually.
17:49We're better -- in many languages, we're better than an average human translating. We do it
17:54instantly and for free. And between those 64 languages, we can translate between any
17:59two of the languages, so we have something like 4,000 languages we can translate between.
18:06And so I'm just trying to give you -- I guess I'm tremendously optimistic that whatever
18:11things we try to challenge, whatever challenges we try to take on, we can solve with a little
18:17bit of concerted effort, and some good technology. And I think that's a really exciting place
18:22to be in the world. So I think we want more people working on
18:26it, we want to have more ambitious goals, and I think with that, we could easily double
18:32kind of human progress and the rate at which we're developing.
18:37So I think our job is to really make the world better, and, you know, I think that the world
18:42has enough resources to really provide a good quality of life to everyone. You know, we
18:48have enough raw materials and things like that. I think we need to get better organized
18:54and really move a lot faster and really make -- work on making that a reality, really by
19:00developing amazing technology that helps the world get better organized, that helps people
19:04be more productive, and I think that's an amazing, amazing thing to see happen.
19:10So I think we take this responsibility really seriously and thank you.
19:15[ Applause ]
Forum discussion at Google+.