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May 12, 2006

10 Great Questions For Google

Q: Why not use clustering technology to help searchers refine queries?
A: Marissa: Google Co-op comes at this from a different direction by using labels from authoritative sources.
Jonathan: You might think that this iteration would be helpful, but if the page already has relevant results, sometimes it slows the user down.

Q: Is Google a portal?
A: Marissa: Originally portal meant doorway, and Google is the first place to start for a lot of people. The definition changed in 1999. Our layout and experience are really different though. There’s a lot of potential headroom left in search.
Jonathan: It's still room to interpret queries better, still room to personalize. And lots of ways to make the ads more relevant.

Q: What about competition with Microsoft?
A: Jonathan: We’re going to continue to focus on innovating as fast as we can.

Q: Microsoft is spending more on machines. Will that cause Google to spend more?
A: Historically, we have always been aggressive in investing in our business and R&D. I don’t expect us to stop, but we won’t be wasteful.

Q: Do you have a goal to create a larger API for all applications on the web? And a way to monetize that?
A: Sergey: No, but it could happen. No uber-API goal right now.
Eric: We’ll do what makes sense based on what users need.

Q: Do you think "Do no evil" can resist being a business?
A: Sergey: In short, yes. We’ve done a good job on aligning our business goals with the goals of our users and doing the best we can. In general, we’re doing a very good job on staying true to out mission. But there will always be some people who disagree about some decisions that we make.

Q: Google has a large database. You say "we’re not evil" and won't abuse data. How can you guarantee you’re not evil?
A: Larry: We rely on the trust of our uses, and if we did something bad as defined by our users, it would severely hurt us. The good news is that large companies that have a good brand are aligned with users' interests: they have a large disincentive that keeps Google trying to do the right thing for users. I would worry more about companies that don't have a user brand but are gathering a ton of info.

Q: Are you interested in bidding on wireless? How many data centers and complaints from webmasters?
A: We look to partner in wireless. We’re looking at the feedback. Sergey: Overall, this new search index is a definite win, in our opinion. Queries that webmasters may be doing are not as typical as normal users' queries, but we have a team looking at the feedback now.

Q: Tradeoff between free-and-not-perfect and a product with great quality?
A: Sergey: We think of them as great already even though they’re not perfect. "We probably abuse the word beta a little bit." Labs is supposed to be the place where things can fall down. People expect a lot more from Google these days, so we could communicate more about which are in the beginning stages and which are more mature. Elliot: conception of Labs is a great example. We wanted to be able to throw stuff up, but people expect more from Google. PR will try to communicate more clearly about expectations.

Q: Why did you cash in a huge pile of shares last year? Do you wish for the days when you were smaller? No China or government conflicts, no inviting press?

A:

Eric: We are delighted to have you here. Execs around IPO time were required to enter into 10b5 plans as part of best practices.

Sergey: I’m happy holding 80% of my stock all in one company. The vast majority I intend to keep forever."

Larry: I remember when we were 100 people, my argument was that search was too important and too meaningful and too global to the world for a small company to really succeed. We really do believe that we’re accomplishing a lot and making the world a better place, and you have to be larger to do that.

More questions from Google Press Day 2006 at Matt Cutts Blog.

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