Google CEO and co-founder Larry Page recently shared his strong appreciation of Tesla CEO & Chief Product Architect, SolarCity Chairman, & SpaceX founder & CEO Elon Musk. The two seem to be kindred spirits, and are of course billionaires. They have also reportedly been friends for many years. Page’s statements in a recent interview acknowledged Elon Musk’s ability to change the world and posed the question of who it would be better to leave his money to than Elon Musk.
Musk responded with mutual admiration for Page’s work and Google. The two successful business innovators exchanged a back-and-forth of mutual support.
In a recent interview with Charlie Rose at the recent TED conference in Vancouver, Canada, Rose asked: “You once said you might consider giving your money to Elon Musk because you had confidence he will change the future.” Page responded:
He wants to go to Mars. That’s a worthy goal. We have a lot of employees at Google who’ve become pretty wealthy. You’re working because you want to change the world and make it better; if the company you work for is worthy of your time, why not your money as well? We just don’t think about that. I’d like for us to help out more than we are.
“[Musk] is honored by Larry’s comments and very much admires what he has accomplished with Google,” a Tesla spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail, according to Automotive News.
Driverless cars, something both Google and Tesla are working on, also came up. Rose asked, “How close are we to the driverless car?” Page responded rather elusively, “Very close. We’ve driven well over 100,000 miles by now.
For more on Google’s focus, Charlie Rose nudged Page to share “Where is Google? And where is it going?”
The mission that we defined a long time ago was to organize the world’s information and make it usable and accessible. Now people always ask me: Is that still what you’re doing? And I’m not quite sure. But search really is such a deep thing for us. To really understand what you want, to really understand the world’s information — we’re still very much at the early stages of that. We’ve been doing this for 15 years already, but it’s not at all done.
Later in the interview, Page opened up more about this. Here’s the question (in bold) and the answer:
What state of mind, quality of mind, has served you best? Rupert Murdoch and many others have said “curiosity,” Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have said “focus.” What has enabled you to think about the future and change the present?
Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future. I try to focus on that: What is the future really going to be? And how do we create it? And how do we power our organization to really focus on that and really drive it at a high rate? When I was working on Android, I felt guilty. It wasn’t what we were working on, it was a start-up, and I felt guilty. That was stupid! It was the future.
Google gets attacked a bit for trying to open up more private information to the public. Rose brought that topic up as well. Here are a few questions and Page’s responses:
Let’s talk about security, privacy, Edward Snowden.
Ha, I saw the picture of Sergey with Snowden yesterday. For me, privacy and security are really important. We think about it in terms of both: You can’t have privacy without security. For me, it’s tremendously disappointing that the government secretly did all this and didn’t tell us. We can’t have democracy if we’re having to protect you and our users from the government over stuff we’ve never had a conversation about. We need to know what the parameters are, what kind of surveillance the government is going to do and how and why.
You’re disappointed they didn’t come to Google.
No, for not coming to the public. We can’t have a functioning democracy without a conversation. It doesn’t make sense.
Let’s talk about privacy.
You carry a phone, and there’s so much information about you, so it makes sense why people are asking difficult questions. The main thing is we need to provide people with choices, show them what data’s being collected: search history, location data. I’m really excited about incognito mode. But I’m worried about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. When I lost my voice I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone’s medical conditions were available anonymously to medical doctors? You could see what doctors accessed it and why, and learn more about conditions you have. I was scared to share this voice stuff, but Sergey persuaded me, and it’s been really positive. I got all this information, I got a survey done, got medical conditions from people with similar issues. We’re not thinking about the tremendous good that could come from sharing the right information with the right people in the right ways.
Image Credit: Larry Page in European Parliament by Marcin Mycielski, European Parliament (CC BY-SA 3.0 license)