Google (GOOG) has seen clear support from the market and analysts following its Q3 earnings call and beat. Since Larry Page took over day-to-day operations of Google last April, he has reported two solid quarters of earnings and revenue growth. Thus, it is hard to emphasize anything but the numbers over the last year and a half.
With that said, having listened to the Q3 conference call and reviewing the transcript, it is Larry Page’s somewhat new mindset regarding the day-to-day operation that makes me feel more confident in him as the Chief Executive Officer, and even better about being a long term investor in Google.
When Larry Page was given the lead on the call he began with some impressive and growing numbers regarding Google +. Though this is all fine and dandy, it is what Larry Page said following his report on the company’s social networking site that I found most compelling. Since taking over the role of CEO, Page has made the conscious effort to slim down the number of products they develop and offer and instead concentrate on making those that are popular better.
I talked about focus, and we've made great progress here too. To create products that really change people's lives, that they use every day, 2x or 3x a day, is really hard. So we have to make tough decisions about what to focus on or we end up doing things that don't have the impact that we strive for.
Since we last spoke, we've begun the process of shutting over 20 different products including Sidewiki, Google Pack, Google Notebook, and Fast Flip, and we'll continue to simplify and streamline our products going forward. This prioritization is crucial if we are to really invest in the extraordinary opportunities in front of Google today.
This sounds like a business strategy and product development strategy that defined a small Palo Alto company and its CEO from the beginning, allowing it to grow and eventually become the largest in the world. As Steve Jobs once said to newly minted Nike (NKE) CEO Mark Parker,
Nike makes some of the best products in the world. Products that you lust after. But you also make a lot of crap. Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff.
This strategy, focusing product development on those products that are of the highest quality and are used multiple times a day, has defined Apple (AAPL) since the introduction of the iPod in 2001. In 2008 in an interview (pdf) with Fortune, Steve Jobs stated,
“Apple is a $30 billion company, yet we've got less than 30 major products. I don't know if that's ever been done before. Certainly the great consumer electronics companies of the past had thousands of products. We tend to focus much more. People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully."
As a newly appointed CEO, Larry Page has done the important job of turning down what must be hundreds of ideas coming from Google engineers. By focusing on the products Google has been successful at growing, for example, Google Maps, and Google Chrome, while exploring new developments to an extent, Page has refocused Google for a long time to come.