Fortune Magazine’s Senior Writer Miguel Helft recently had the opportunity to spend a little quality time with Google co-founder and CEO, Larry Page.
With an estimated worth of a measley USD $20.3 billion, Page is one of the wealthiest men in America (if not one of the more influential, particularly in the tech industry). So what did Page talk about? Self-driving cars, mostly… that, and wishing Google and Apple could find themselves in a big group hug.
Of course we all wonder what process Google uses to choose their next big project, so when Helft asked the question Page responded by saying that as a company they strive “to do things that will motivate the most amazing people in the world to want to work on them.”
Perhaps Google could use those muse-like powers to fulfill Page’s other wish that all of the leading tech companies (Apple included but also speaking to other competitors like Amazon) “would get along better and the users didn’t suffer as a result of other people’s activities.”
Of course, when Page is asked whether he is trying to cultivate a better relationship with the company the response is rather non-committal and vague, stating:
“I mean, obviously we talk to Apple. We have a big search relationship with Apple, and so on, and we talk to them and so on.”
The wish for tech-world-peace comes off a little silly of course, given the legal battles Google is involved in with those same companies (recognizing that every company involved has done their own share of initiating those legal battles).
While Page does take the opportunity (when pressed) during the interview to throw a few jabs in Apple’s direction, he also gives them a modicum of credit by saying that “all the big technology companies are big because they did something great.” Even Apple. (When asked about Page’s relationship with the late Steve Jobs, Page indicated that they were friendly. At times.)
The rest of the interview is a lot of what you would likely expect. Lots of optimism over Google projects past and present (for good reason), with a clever little bite here and there that has become Page’s signature. At one point Helft noted that Google Plus was a big bet, a remark quickly corrected by Page indicating that their social network “is a big bet.”
In true Fortune style, the hard questions were asked and Page handled them elegantly; answering with more questions than were answered –particularly when cornered over Google’s plans for a Motorola Nexus device and how they plan to handle telling Samsung and LG. Page offered to speak generally on the topic, saying mainly that there is “a lot of complexity in that question.”
All eyes are pointed at Google right now as the counter-weight in the ‘who can adequately compete with Apple in the long term’ debate. Most spectators (regardless of which side they vote for) are excited by what is to come because there is no question that competition drives innovation.