Sun Valley: Cost cutting at Google?

Has Google stopped offering staff bottled water as it cuts back on costs during the recession? It’s not clear even after journalists spent time with CEO Eric Schmidt and co-founder Larry Page at the Sun Valley conference this week.

Page and Schmidt couldn’t seem to agree on whether bottled water is still available for free at Google’s Mountain View, California campus, which is renown for its generous buffet-style lunches free for all employees.

Schmidt was telling reporters how the company has worked to get itself “right-sized” to perform well financially regardless of the ongoing economic downturn. One of those cuts was water he claimed.

Page, ever the tech geek, backed this comment with data. “We did a long analysis and discovered that reducing bottled water didn’t cause people to drink less water and more soda.” So they got rid of the bottled water.

Schmidt at first agreed, then seemed uncertain: “I’m sure I’ve seen bottled water somewhere.”

Sun Valley: When will YouTube make a profit?

That question has got louder and louder from investors and Wall Street analysts concerned that YouTube owner Google is racking huge profit-hindering costs to be the free online video platform for the world. It seems Google’s top guys don’t know the answer either — or if they do, they’re choosing not to share it with reporters on Thursday.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt told a media briefing at Sun Valley that he believes YouTube, which his company spent $1.65 billion to acquire three years ago, will come good thanks to its recent launch of new advertising formats such as pay-to-promote and pre-roll ads. “We’re optimisic that YouTube will be a strong revenue business for us because of these products,” he told reporters.

But the problem is investors are more concerned with the huge costs involved in streaming millions of videos globally everyday with a very small percentage of them covered by advertising. In other words when will YouTube make money from its dominance?

UPDATE-Sun Valley: Google and Twitter heads together

Spotting which executives are talking to each other is the No.1 spectator sport among the reporters at the Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, where dealmaking is always in the air. And the action on Thursday did not disappoint.

The man pictured on the left, of course, is Google co-founder Larry Page. The backside of the right-hand dome belongs to Twitter CEO Evan Williams. The pair appeared to be deep in discussion in the conference’s private lunch garden on Thursday.

Twitter is the fast-growing microblogging site that was previously rumored to have been in acquisition discussions with Google. Twitter has repeatedly said that it wants to remain independent and that it’s not for sale. Was Williams telling Page the same thing in Sun Valley?

Live Blogging from Sun Valley (Day 3)

Reuters reporters Robert MacMillan, Yinka Adegoke and Alexei Oreskovic will be sending live updates from the Sun Valley gathering. Read their updates below or follow us on Twitter.

Google’s chief: small salary, big expenses

Protecting Google’s head honcho got more affordable in 2008, but the cost of air travel for CEO Eric Schmidt and his entourage rose sharply.


According to Google’s annual proxy statement, released on Tuesday, Google paid out $106,201 “on Eric’s behalf for costs related to aircraft chartered for Google business on which family and friends flew in 2008.”


That’s a good deal more than the $4,000 Schmidt’s friends and family racked up flying the friendly skies in 2007 or the $22,456 in tax “gross ups” for air travel in 2006.