In rare appearance, Larry Page discusses new Alphabet structure
SAN FRANCISCO – In a rare public appearance, Google co-founder and Alphabet Inc CEO Larry Page explained why he was spurred to create a whole new structure for the company he created with Sergey Brin almost two decades ago.
“I want to push the envelope for what’s possible for an innovative company with large resources,” he said during a Q&A session with Fortune editor Alan Murray at the magazine’s Global Forum 2015 in San Francisco.
He said the new company would operate a little bit like a venture capital firm, a little bit like Berkshire Hathaway Inc, the conglomerate controlled by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, whom Page admires.
There are “aspects of Berkshire to Alphabet,” he said, but it’s too early to tell how the new company would function.
Whimsically addressing how the name came about, he credited Brin with it. “It’s only fair since I chose Google.”
He also tackled a question on Google’s efforts in China, saying “we’ve always had operations in China,” and adding “we’d like to do more.” He said he had “delegated this question to Sundar,” referring to Sundar Pichai, the new CEO of Google Inc, Alphabet’s search engine unit.
It was a rare public appearance for Page, who co-founded the Mountain View, California-based company with Stanford classmate Brin in 1998. Since then, Google has grown from a popular search engine to Alphabet, a far-reaching conglomerate employing more than 40,000 employees worldwide.
He has also taken a step back from being the face of the company, largely due to a chronic medical condition affecting his vocal cords. He has appeared at only a handful of events over the last few years.
Page is known for his enthusiasm for some of the company’s more far-fetched efforts, such as driverless cars and other so-called “moonshots”.
At Monday’s event he touted Project Loon, an effort to deliver Internet service from connected air balloons. Google announced last week Loon will begin tests of its service in Indonesia as early as next year.
“Think about how cell phones have changed everyone’s life. Think about how having your cell phone work anywhere in the world can change your life,” he said.
Aside from Google, Alphabet’s other businesses include Google X, connected home products maker Nest, venture capital arm Google Ventures and Google Capital, which invests in larger tech companies. -Reuters