May 8, 2008 / 11:32 PM / 11 years ago

Google founders have grown up, CEO says

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California (Reuters) - It’s official: the guys who founded Google are grown up.

Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt attends a news conference in Beijing March 17, 2008. REUTERS/Grace Liang

That was the pronouncement on Thursday from Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, who was hired in 2001 to provide mature, traditional business savvy to the Internet search company founded by whiz kids Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

“The boys have grown up,” Schmidt told a news conference ahead of the wildly successful company’s annual meeting.

Now billionaires, the two who formed the company, which has the motto “Don’t Be Evil,” were seen as “brilliant young founders,” Schmidt said.

“They now function in the company as the senior executives with the kind of skills and experience —“

“— We wish he had five years ago,” Page said, finishing Schmidt’s thought.

Page, 35, and Brin, who was born in the Soviet Union 34 years ago, made history in their 20s when they set up the Google search engine.

“Now we don’t have to have the same kind of arguments,” said Schmidt, who at 53 qualifies as an old man by the standards of the youthful Google campus.

“In fact, they really are running the companies that they founded at the scale and with the insights that you would expect of people who are no longer young founders but are mature business leaders,” he offered.

Brin and Page ranked as number 32 and 33 on Forbes’ 2008 list of billionaires, with more than $18 billion each, but on Thursday they downplayed the effects of overwhelming wealth.

“I don’t think at a certain scale it matters, but I do have a pretty good toy budget now,” Brin said when asked about how vast wealth had changed his life. “I just got a new monitor.”

Page mentioned an even more modest benefit: “I don’t have to do laundry.”

To which Schmidt, who favors a more traditional coat and tie to the founders’ more casual dress, replied: “I think the clothes are pretty much the same.”

Brin wore a black pullover shirt. Page wore a black jacket over a gray pullover shirt.

“Those aspects of their personalities have not changed,” Schmidt said. “They care a lot about the principles of the company. They don’t care a lot about the other things.”

NO MORE ALL-NIGHTERS

Both Page and Brin got married over the past year but closely guard their personal lives. At the news conference, both said their work lives had certainly changed.

“One thing is that we have 10 or 20,000 people to help us,” Brin said. “Certainly I am not pulling all-nighters all the time like we were when we were in the garage, when we were only three or four people doing everything.”

“So now I have vastly more help and I think concern about using our time efficiently, having good judgment, making good decisions. That’s kind of a welcome change to me.”

Page highlighted the responsibilities they now carried. “Our opportunity and responsibility has continued to expand,” Page said. “It doesn’t feel all that different to me than it did a few years ago.”

Editing by Peter Henderson and Eric Beech

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