Google: Not Buying the New York Times

Russ Mitchell has a must-read interview with Eric Schmidt in the April issue of Portfolio. It gets off to a cracking start, with Schmidt saying that a combined Yahoo-Microsoft would have "certain applications–like instant messaging and email–that could be used essentially to break the internet". And there’s lots of other cool bits in there:

  • Schmidt says Google could do well in a recession: "There’s evidence that more-measurable advertising does better than unmeasurable advertising during a slowdown." I buy that: indeed, I listed Google VP Omid Kordestani as one of the winners in the event that things went south.
  • Schmidt also has a good reason for Google not to buy the New York Times: "We’d be picking winners," he says. "Our principle is providing all the world’s information." But there’s also a hint of arrogance in his answer when he says that "we’d be disenfranchising a potential new entrant."
  • And he’s even – I hope you’re sitting down for this one – nice about Verizon.

    Verizon has shown a commitment to open access. It concluded that it was good for Verizon’s customers. The senior leadership of Verizon actually visited Google to talk to us about this and make sure they got it right. And I think it’s great. I wish everybody else would open up their networks.

I’ve always liked Schmidt; hiring him was probably the smartest/luckiest thing that Larry and Sergey ever did. Normally I don’t buy in to the Great Man theory of CEOs, but given how many technology companies have underperformed their promise, Google’s success is really quite astonishing, and I do think a lot of that is Schmidt’s doing.

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