Exclusive: Google CEO unleashed

By Chrystia Freeland
September 17, 2010

Earlier this week at the Google Zeitgeist conference, the company’s chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt said there was a divergence between his sector and the rest of the economy. While high-tech firms are currently receiving new investments, rolling out new products, and hiring new workers, the broader economy is at a standstill. “The damage that was done by the recession was much more severe than people acknowledge,” Schmidt said.

As the head of one of Silicon Valley’s most profitable companies and an ally of President Obama, Schmidt defended the White House from the charge that it is anti-business. He said recent events like the financial crisis and the BP oil spill showcased the need for government regulation of the private sector.

That said, the Google chief argued his own industry “should be as unregulated as possible,” given the pace of change and the plurality of options available to consumers.

He’s also pushing for an overhaul of America’s visa system and described Arizona’s controversial new immigration law as “nearly racist.” He said the guiding principle for the U.S. visa policy should be to let all smart people stay in the country. He added that the cap on H-1B visas for educated workers was “the stupidest thing we’ve ever done.”

Schmidt congratulated Facebook for their success and dismissed the idea that the two were fierce rivals, noting that Facebook users visit Google more frequently than non-users. He also praised Apple, in particular the iPhone and iPad, for demonstrating that “purpose-built applications really do work.”  Schmidt said Google incorporated that lesson into its Android operating system.

Regarding his own business plans, Schmidt is excited about Google TV, the company’s effort to bring the power of the internet to television programming. When asked if he saw a parallel between this project and the online music stores that crippled record companies, he responded that Google TV will likely increase demand for content-providers and cable companies. For the same reason, he believes the company’s forays into the news business will ultimately drive more traffic to newspapers and magazines.

When Chrystia asked Schmidt about Google’s decision to withdraw from China, he explained it was a decision based on values and that he was disappointed that other companies did not follow Google’s lead. Countries like China and the United Arab Emirates, which recently suspended the use of BlackBerrys, simply “don’t understand what has been unleashed by technology.”

3 comments

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He added that the cap on H-1B visas for educated workers was “the stupidest thing we’ve ever done”.
I’d love to see how he’s feel if his occupation were being flooded with 90,000 cheap, indentured servants per year. His concern is only about having access to thousands of foreign slaves to lower his labor costs which is why wages have declined in the technical fields every year since the inception of the program.
I wonder if he has any children and if he does, which occupations he is steering them towards. The only ones with any future in the US are immigration attorney and corporate lobbyist thanks to cheap labor cheerleaders like him.

Posted by PHenry13 | Report as abusive

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Why all the manufacturing units were shifted to China is because there were no such programs in US to keep the manufacturing industry competitive. If there was such a program then today we would have seen “Made in US” iPods and “Thousands” of jobs for middle class.

Similarly, if there was no H1B program, technology companies over here would have struggled to compete with any other South Asian technology company that would have done the same project with lower cost and in short duration due to more number of people willing to work at a lower wage. The best case will be to open up an office in India to cut costs and raise profits. So again rich becomes richer and poor becomes poorer as there won’t be enough jobs for middle class in US.

Ank

Posted by ank111 | Report as abusive

@PHenry13, Today, the world is a free market economy with the principles – compete, win and survive. Its the “survival of the fittest” both in Natural Selection and in Economics. Dont be a US centric and a frog in the pool thinking that this is the world!

Posted by MAReuters | Report as abusive