October 07, 2005

sergey brin at web2

Sergey's hanging around the web 2.0 speaker lounge. Battelle says he's going to be the unscheduled special guest right after lunch. Wonder what's up?

UPDATE: He's heeerrre!

UPDATE 2: Dan Farber of CNet was sitting next to me and posted his take on it: "Sergey Brin: No office suite…for now"

JB: You're not Jon Miller, I won't bite.

JB: How are you handling this, going from a grad student to where you are now, how's your head?

SB: It's luck. We were very fortunate in many ways. We were at Stanford, search was interesting & promising; it's not clear we saw a big business opportunity, me and Larry, we followed our hearts.

JB: Terry Semel said Google is #4 as a portal.
SB: Based on my reading of that, it would make us the underdog. You've been to our cafe. Our food is pretty good, we try to improve it. But we're probably not in the top hundred or thousand.

JB: At dinner with Yusuf Mehdi of Microsoft, he said we're the underdog now. Do you see Microsoft as the underdog?
SB: I'd be delighted to be seen as the leader in technology, and I do think we are a leader from a technical point of view.

JB: Search provides an extraordinary monetization, and an extraordinary valuation as a company.
SB: I'm not a valuation expert. In terms of search market share, well I'm obviously delighted. People come to Google because of the search experience, and that's why they stay.

JB: Will the Google interface continue to be clean and lots of white space?
SB: It depends on the service, for example consider gmail. For folks using other webmail, how many have had your quota grow by 10x lately?

JB: What about Google as the web platform? What do you think about all those companies that build around that platform. You just launched a feedreader, what about other people that make those?
SB: I think those feedreader companies will be getting a lot of calls from Yahoo, Amazon and so on. When we made AdSense, we could have done banner ads but we wanted to do something different. Now lots of search companies and small sites use AdSense; one of the motivations for us was to find a way to help small sites from disappearing off the web, and AdSense helps them to stay up.

JB: What about content? AOL, Yahoo, IAC all talked about content being core to their business.
SB: We believe in sending people to content, but not necessarily making content ourselves. We're not about trying to keep people on Google, we send them off.

Q: What about Google Office?
SB: Yes, there are lots of stories. I don't think taking previous generation technologies and trying to make them relevant to the web is the right thing. I don't think we should take a bunch of AJAX and make a minicomputer on the web. I'm not saying that's what Office is (laffs). I'd like to see us do new things.

Q: Is clickfraud a problem?
SB: I'll echo Omid's comments. It's certainly something we need to work on, but there are a long list of things we do to prevent fraud. Most of our advertisers don't worry about clicks , they actually care about conversions and making sales, and they monitor those closely. On the whole, with the large team of people we have dedicated to fighting it, clickfraud is not really a big problem.

Q: What areas are you focusing on, vs what's safe to invest in?
SB: In general, we have core projects that we want to be strategic about, and bottoms up projects. Sometimes those surprise us. News, for example. Probably most of our successes are not things that any execs thought would be a good idea. I guess that doesn't help much in figuring out what do do; it doesn't help me much either.

Q: Terry Semel said 5% of pageviews are search, 40% are communication & user generated content.
SB: The numbers are probably fair, but after you do a search you want to look at the results. We have focused on things where people spend a lot of time; we tried to make email more efficient. The reason we try so many things out on labs, is it's really hard to predict what will work. If we had tried to predict Wikipedia a few years ago, I think you wouldn't have believed it would work.

Q: What do you think about video search?
SB: I think people underestimate the quality of information available in video. Extraordinarily high quality content is availbale in video, look at the credits -- hundreds of people work on them. Some of the best quality information we have is in video form. Making it searchable will really unlock that quality.

Posted by Gene at October 7, 2005 01:24 PM

Post a comment

Remember personal info?