Google's Page: We're careful with shareholder money

In his first shareholder meeting since taking the reins as CEO, Larry Page assures the crowd that the company is spending its money wisely and remains focused on its core businesses.

Speaking at his first shareholder meeting since becoming CEO two months ago , Google's Larry Page tried to address some nagging issues that have concerned investors and taken a bite out of the company's stock price.

Google co-founder and now CEO Larry Page speaks to reporters at a meeting in 2008. Stephen Shankland/CNET

Calling Page's talk yesterday a "response to critics who who say the company is too free-spending, too unfocused, and too aloof to investors and Wall Street," Silicon Valley-based Mercury News said that the CEO defended Google's spending and reiterated that Google remains focused on its core business.

Focusing on the issue of spending, Page said even though the company dabbles in "speculative" projects like self-driving cars, it's prudent about how it spends its cash.

"We're very careful stewards of shareholder money," Page said, according to quotes of the speech sent to CNET by Google. "We're very committed to spending money and resources carefully. You know, we started, remember, as a start-up in a garage. And we're very, very careful about our spending. In fact, I remember I was scared to hire an office manager because I thought it was too expensive. So we have that history and culture, and we're very committed to that."

Page told investors that the company wants to remain innovative and encourage different types of projects from its employees, referring to a Google philosophy "that we don't want to choke innovation." But he assured the crowd that search and advertising remain the company's core businesses and the areas that still receive the greatest investment.

"We spend the vast majority of our resources on our core businesses, which are search and advertising," said Page. "Search being how we receive, you know, all the searches that we get, and advertising, how we are making the mass majority of our money. So, obviously, that's our core focus."

Google's stock price has dropped around 16 percent since the start of the year when it was first announced that Page would take over as CEO. Critics have felt that the stock has suffered lately due in part to Page's inability to tout his own company.

"There is a huge swath of investors who know nothing about Larry," said Macquarie Securities analyst Ben Schachter, according to the Mercury News. "We think the company is sort of missing an opportunity here to communicate what its strategy is...We think that is definitely an overhang for the stock."

If so, then it remains to be seen if Page's appearance and speech yesterday will be enough to placate Wall Street and reassure anxious investors.

Updated 9 a.m. PT with direct quotes from Page's speech.

 

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