Even before In the Plexauthor Steve Levy’s cogent post on Thursday aboutthis week’s uproar over Google‘s new social search moves, which nodded to Google CEO Larry Page‘s possible role in the affair, I was already beginning to think it had Page written all over it. If so–and how could he not have been deeply involved in such a huge change to Google’s core service?–we could be looking at the first evidence of a significant downside to the Google cofounder’s management style.
Up to now, Page has gotten mostly kudos during his nine-month reign. Investor‘s Business Daily, in fact, named him the CEO of the Year. And while that pick drew some objections (and some support), it has been clear for some time that Page has remade the company to be more nimble. Not long after Page took over, for example, Google announced plans to buy Motorola Mobility for more than $12 billion, its biggest acquisition yet by a factor of four. The deal, which is under government scrutiny, was hailed by some and criticized by others, but no one disagreed that it was unusually bold.
But what if Page is too bold for Google’s own good? We won’t know that, most likely, for at least a couple more years, depending on how Google navigates through treacherous competitive and regulatory waters. But with the latest kerfuffle, it’s time to ask if Page is not just bold but, in some cases, rash. In that Investor’s Business Daily article, it’s telling that Alan Eustace, Google’s senior vice president of search, said of Page, ”His view is that speed is everything.”