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商业 - 科技

专访谷歌CEO拉里•佩奇:为何霸主级科技公司会走向衰败

Miguel Helft 2014年12月12日

谷歌首席执行官拉里•佩奇表示,那些失败的科技公司在改善已有业务上表现出色,但由于不擅长重塑自身,进而令人遗憾地走向衰退。

    谷歌(Google)已经站在了行业的巅峰,该公司首席执行官拉里•佩奇正在追寻越来越多充满野心的“探月计划”,这些前沿项目有望改变运输、医药、互联网以及其他行业。佩奇怀抱的坚定信念,以及谷歌傲人的财务业绩,让他成为今年的《财富》(Fortune)年度商业人物。(请看2014年12月1日《财富》封面故事:《拉里•佩奇——全宇宙最有野心的首席执行官》。)

    在文章发表前就一系列话题接受《财富》专访时,佩奇畅谈了为何霸主级的科技公司会走向衰败,谷歌准备如何避开这一命运等问题。以下内容摘录自这次采访,为了表述清晰,文章进行了一定的编辑。

    为何霸主级的科技公司会失败?

    谷歌最初仅有100位员工,一路走来,我一直在询问一个问题:“我愿意为谷歌工作吗?”我想总体来说,我的答案是:“愿意。”而我关注的重点之一,就是要确保我们为那些愿意问这些问题、想要保持好奇心和创业精神、并且希望做些事情来改变世界的人营造一个良好的环境。

    如果去看看大部分我觉得已经达到瓶颈,甚至已经开始衰败的科技公司,我想我的答案都会是:“不愿意。”对怀抱上述理想的人来说,这些公司并不是好的归宿。一般说来,这类公司总是在重复同样的事情,他们可能想竭力扩大规模,但并不适合那些真正想不断做大事的人。

    谷歌如何把自动驾驶汽车、诊断癌症的纳米颗粒这类前沿项目纳入公司的规划?

    和以前做的事情相比,我没觉得这些计划有那么特别。我记得当我们启动Gmail项目时,每个人都对我们表示了疑惑,包括公司的同事,他们会问:“我们为什么要去做电子邮件?我们是搜索公司。”最初做Gmail时,我们公司只有不到250人,而甚至在那之前我们就开始讨论这个计划了。考虑到当时公司的规模,我认为那真是雄心勃勃的计划。

    现在我们已经有4万人了(编者注:实际上谷歌目前有5.5万员工),所以着手做自动驾驶汽车,在我看来并没那么雄心勃勃。

    如何抓住移动产品的机遇?

    我认为作为首席执行官,就是要推动所有谷歌人不断前行。看看我们公司移动部门的员工比例,他们并不占公司全部员工人数的100%,当然这个比例也不应该是100%。但是移动部门的员工比例应该比现在更高些才是。

    我想如果你问华尔街的人,他们最担心的应该是怎么通过移动产品挣钱。而我觉得我们在这方面做得很棒。我们总有很多事情可以做。我认为搜索与移动产品契合得很好,在搜索引擎中植入广告的效果很棒。

    不过,这个阶段的工作在本质上可能更具颠覆性。我们真的需要说:“好吧,如果你使用移动设备,也许你打电话会更方便,或者可以更容易地拜访某地,或者做这些事的时候能更轻松地获得帮助。”所以,广告也许要看起来有所不同,或是应该采取不同的运行方式。

    Google is at the top of its game, and its chief executive, Larry Page, is pursuing a growing number of ambitious “moon shots” that could transform transportation, medicine, the Internet itself, and more. Page’s intensity of purpose and his company’s GOOG 1.13% stellar financial results earned him recognition as Businessperson of the Year in Fortune. (See the cover story of our Dec. 1, 2014 issue, “Larry Page–The most ambitious CEO in the universe.”)

    In a wide-ranging interview ahead of the article’s publication, Page discussed with Fortune why dominant technology companies fade and how Google hopes to evade that fate, among other things. Here are a few excerpts of his words from that interview, edited for clarity.

    On why dominant tech companies fail:

    I’m always asking the question, as the company has grown from a hundred people, “Would I want to work for Google?” I think in general the answer is “yes.” Part of my focus has also been making sure that we’re creating an environment for people who want to ask those questions and want to be curious and want to be entrepreneurial and want to do things that are really impactful for the world.

    If I look at most of the tech companies that I felt have kind of reached a plateau or have generally atrophied or something like that, I would say “no,” they weren’t a good home for people who wanted to do those things. In general they kind of kept doing the same thing, kind of eking out a little bit more scale but not really being a place where people want to continue to really do impactful things.

    On how Google’s fabled moonshots—self driving cars, nano-particles for cancer detection—fit into the arc of the company:

    It doesn’t feel all that different than it’s felt before to me in the past. I remember when we started Gmail. Everyone was upset with us, including people in the company, like, “Why are we working on email? We’re a search company.” [We were] less than two hundred and fifty people I think when we started Gmail, and we were talking about that even before that. I think that was pretty ambitious, given the scale of the company.

    So given that we have forty thousand people now [Google employs about 55,000 people, actually. —Ed.], the fact that we’re working on the [self-driving] car doesn’t feel that ambitious to me.

    On seizing the opportunity in mobile:

    I think my job as CEO, it’s always to be pushing people ahead. If I were to look at the percentage of people [working] on mobile, it’s not 100% in the company. And nor should it be 100%. But it should probably be larger than it is.

    I think externally if you asked people on the Street, they’re going to worry mostly about monetization [on mobile]. And I think we’re doing pretty well there. There’s always more work to be done. I think that search is working well on mobile, the ads on search are working well on mobile.

    But the work at this stage is probably more disruptive in nature too. We really need to say, “Well, if you’re on mobile, maybe it’s easier to call someplace, or it’s easier to visit the place, or it’s easier to have help with those things.” So maybe the ads should look a little different or work differently.

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