Larry Page Officially Starts as New Google CEO

As Google co-founder Larry Page takes over from Eric Schmidt as the company’s CEO,we look at what Page needs to do to take the search engine through its next phase of growth

Google co-founder Larry Page has taken over as the company's new chief executive. Photo: Jb Sanieda/Flickr

Google co-founder Larry Page replaces Eric Schmidt as CEO of the company Monday. Schmidt will continue as the executive chairman. While it’s not a drastic change — Page was already the CEO of Google once, and has had a leading role since the company’s beginning — it does raise questions of how the company will change under the new CEO.

However, Google, since Larry  has gone from an ambitious startup to a publicly-listed giant of the internet which generates cash and has 24,000 employees (and will probably have 30,000 by the end of the year); it has a stake in the fast-growing smartphone market, which barely existed; and it has also begun facing up to the changes inherent in being so large, one of which – the risks of bureaucracy – are well-known to most chief executives; the other – the threat of antitrust action in Europe and the US – are not.

Formally, Schmidt will focus on external affairs, relationships with businesses and governments as well as customer relations. Page will focus on internal affairs, product development, and technology strategy. But instead of Google functioning as a triumvirate, led by Schmidt, Page and Sergey Brin, Page will now be calling the shots – and taking more responsibility.

It will not be an easy task. The company faces increasing challenges to show it’s not monopolizing the search space and that it cares about user privacy. Google needs to convince the world it’s a gentle giant: huge but benevolent, successful but not at the expense of its millions of users.

The company has also had a very tense relationship with one of the largest markets in the world, China, resulting in a minute influence even in the space where Google is traditionally the best: search.

Finally, as Facebook grows larger, Google has been unable to prove it can compete in the social space. Google Buzz has been, for the most part, a failure; Orkut hasn’t been going anywhere for years; and a rumored Facebook competitor is still just that — a rumor. Google needs to either succeed at competing with Facebook (through an acquisition or a revolutionary new product) or stop trying, perhaps making strategic partnerships where needed to make sure it keeps a piece of the social pie.

What do you think? Can Page overcome these challenges and steer Google out of trouble and into a new age of prosperity? [via Mashable and The Gardian (UK)]

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