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Larry Page: Google wants to be 'deserving of great love'

As he marks his first year running the show, Google's CEO sends out a long missive reaffirming that it's still "possible to make money without being evil."

Charles Cooper Former Executive Editor / News
Charles Cooper was an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet.
Charles Cooper
3 min read
Google CEO Larry Page's profile picture Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Larry Page marked his one year anniversary as Google's CEO with a sweeping review of the last year -- one that declares Google "a company that is deserving of great love."

And in a side reference to the "Do No Evil" motto that Google unveiled when it went public, Page said that Google has "always believed that it's possible to make money without being evil." At the same time, however, he acknowledged that tapping that emotional chord is harder than simply turning a slogan into a corporate goal.

Word cloud of Larry Page's 2012 update to investors (Wordle)

In his 2012 Update from the CEO, Page wrote that Google recognized the ambition of that goal "because most large companies are not well-loved, or even seemingly set up with that in mind.

We're lucky to have a very direct relationship with our users, which creates a strong incentive for us to do the right thing. For every magic moment we create -- like the ability to drop a photo into Google and search by image -- we have a very happy user. And when our products don't work or we make mistakes, it's easy for users to go elsewhere because our competition is only a click away.

Users place a lot of trust in Google when they store data, like emails and documents, on our systems. And we need to be responsible stewards of that information. It's why we invest a lot of effort in security and related tools for users, like 2-step verification and encryption, which help prevent unauthorized access to information. The recent changes we made to our privacy policies generated a lot of interest. But they will enable us to create a much better, more intuitive experience across Google -- our key focus for the year.

He also conceded that Google has sometimes fumbled its technology transitions.

...we recognize that we don't get everything right -- and that the changes we make, like our recent visual refresh, can initially upset some users (even if they later come to love them). But we don't operate in a static industry, and technology changes so fast that we need to innovate and iterate. Of course, when we do make mistakes we try to fix them as quickly as possible and, if necessary, change the way we do things to prevent problems from arising again. And we work hard to explain what we are doing--and why--because with size comes responsibility.

A major theme in Page's update was creating a more seamless experience across Google's products. 

Creating a simpler, more intuitive experience across Google has been another important focus. I have always believed that technology should do the hard work -- discovery, organization, communication -- so users can do what makes them happiest: living and loving, not messing with annoying computers! That means making our products work together seamlessly. People shouldn't have to navigate Google to get stuff done. It should just happen. As Sergey said in the memorable way only he can, "We've let a thousand flowers bloom; now we want to put together a coherent bouquet."

He pointed to Gmail, Google Docs, Google Play and Chrome as examples of products that work well across Android and desktop. Page noted the role Google+ plays in weaving a social layer across the Google empire, acknowledging that there is more work to do to earn the love of billions.

It's still early days, and we have a long way to go. But these are tremendously important changes, and with over 120 Google+ integrations to date (including Google Search, YouTube and Android), we are on the right track. Well over 100 million users are active on Google+, and we're seeing a positive impact across the Web, with Google users being able to recommend search results and videos they like -- a goal we've had ever since we started the company.

In many ways Google has become the Microsoft of the 21st century, trying to dominate the software business, this time in the cloud, working with vast network of advertisers and partners around its platforms. As Page suggested in his memo, and Microsoft demonstrated in a past era, love and trust can be elusive for multi-billion dollar corporations.