Thursday, June 02, 2011

All Quiet on the Google Front

By Eric Jackson
RealMoney Contributor

6/2/2011 12:15 PM EDT
Click here for more stories by Eric Jackson

We're now two months into the reign of Larry Page as the CEO of Google (GOOG -commentary - Trade Now) and, unless you count his canned comments at the start of the April earnings call, we've yet to hear him speak publicly about the company.

There hasn't even been a quick comment like, "I'm conducting a thorough assessment of all Google operations and will soon report on my strategy for the company." Nothing.

Instead it's been left to his lieutenants and his old boss to make the only public statements about what life is like under Larry. "It's invigorating," said Marissa Mayer a couple of weeks ago, comparing a day working at Google to a whiff of Irish Spring in your morning shower.

"Larry, of course, is brilliant," said Eric Schmidt earlier this week at the D conference in Los Angeles, in his first speech since taking the role of "Executive" Chairman (meaning, "I'm still working, I'm not just golfing, OK?"). Of course, Larry's brilliant. Why would anyone even think of questioning his brilliance?

Since brilliance is the only prerequisite for capable CEO leadership, perhaps we should nominate Stephen Hawking to take over from Carol Bartz at Yahoo! (YHOO - commentary - Trade Now). Or what about a brain surgeon as the next head of General Electric (GE - commentary - Trade Now)? That's the problem with business today: There's not enough brilliance.

Maybe Wall Street wouldn't have almost blown up two years ago if only we had had more brilliant people working there.

Being a leader is about more than brilliance. Look, it's important. I'd rather have a smart guy running a company than a dummy, but it's about inspiring others, execution, long-term planning and short-term firefighting. Larry Page is still a huge unknown quantity, and that uncertainty going to continue to hang over this company's stock.

I don't know if it will be on the next earnings call or at some investment banking conference, or maybe not until next year's D conference (this year's would have been the obvious one to attend and speak at ... and I'm sure he was invited), but eventually Larry Page will have to get up and speak out like every other CEO does.

When that day comes, buckle up for a stock drop. I continue to be convinced that the stock will sell off as investors better appreciate who is in charge now. "This is the guy?" will be a common reaction.


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