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Summary:

Investor’s Business Daily has named Google’s Larry Page “CEO of the year” eight months after he took over for Eric Schmidt. Talk about being premature. There is no doubt he has made many moves, but it is not clear if those moves are going to pay off.

larry-page

Investor’s Business Daily has named Larry Page  of Google “CEO of the year.” I think it jumped the gun. It is too early to be passing the honors. Why? First, Larry took over the CEO job in April 2011, so he hasn’t really had a full year under his belt. Sure, the company made some good progress on its social efforts. Android has been a monster hit, but it is not clear how much money it is bringing to the company. And frankly, Android would do well with or without Page: It is Andy Rubin who matters. But more importantly, Google’s stock was up just over 6.88 percent during 2011. Now, compared to a 4.45 percent decline in 2010, I guess investors should be happy that there was growth.

The financial news daily’s argument for naming him the CEO of the year:

He reorganized the company’s management structure, redesigned the face of the company’s products and pushed forward with a multibillion dollar deal to acquire a cellphone manufacturing outfit. He also launched two other products aiming at Groupon, the leader of online coupons, and Facebook, the top social networking site.

From where I sit, I see a lot of activity but very few results. However, I guess we are living in an era where activity counts for achievement. Want a comparison? Even boring old chip maker Qualcomm saw its stock price grow a shade over 9 percent in 2011. Intel? Its stock rose 16.31 percent, despite have a mobile strategy that is pinned on luck and a prayer.

How about a comparison with Apple and Tim Cook? Cook was officially named the CEO in August, though he has been running the company since Jan. 2011, when Jobs took a leave of absence. Apple’s stock gained over 22 percent in 2011. The death of Steve Jobs and incremental product launches didn’t stop the Cupertino juggernaut, which is on target to do yet another blowout quarter.

That said, I think it is too early to start passing the sobriquets. Let’s wait and see how Google deals with the negative impact of the Motorola acquisition. From what I hear, it is already putting a crimp on its hiring plans. I am not sure the problems that Motorola had as an independent company will go away under Page’s regime.

It is not just Google’s Page. I am withholding my judgment on Cook as well. Let’s wait and see how Cook shepherds Apple in 2012. Jobs once famously said that the iPhone was four years ahead of its competitors. Can Apple maintain that lead? The company has a lot to prove: Siri and iCloud are two examples of “works in progress,” and iAds is an unmitigated failure. Forget the basics; the big question is, Can Cook keep Apple’s creatives happy?

Anyway, if you twisted my arm and made me pick CEO of the year for 2011, I know one thing for sure: It wouldn’t be Larry Page.

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  1. Om:
    Wow ! I commend you for your bold, open and unbiased thoughts.
    Many writers would avoid any discussion/mention of Google CEOs.
    Girish

  2. SOMEONE is an Apple fan…

  3. no one actually reads investors daily btw.

  4. Volker Hirsch Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    How about Jeff Bezos? Seems to be doing pretty well pivoting (Kindle, etc) whilst maintaining their steam on their core business.

  5. On iAds, as a consumer, i love them compared to other ads. Apple just needs to figure out the right economic model around it.

  6. Om, now you have to name your pick or at least the top 2-3 choices.

  7. Awesome OM!!!

  8. I use all of Google’s major products every day. Except for Gmail, they all suck. The company needs focus, and while Page is supposedly bringing that, his job isn’t nearly done yet.

  9. _____ of the Year is inevitably silly. It is only possible to judge this years performance in 3-4 years when the strategy is fully realized. Steve Jobs in 1997 was killing the Apple clone market, keeping the hardware business and doing everything possible to NOT win “CEO of the Year” from an investor news magazine.

    The best CEOs ignore short-term investors and focus on long-term plays. (And also don’t turn the company into their own private piggybank ala MCI Worldcom as a piggybank example.)

    1. Rurik Bradbury Pat Tuesday, January 3, 2012

      Yep, sadly the CEO of the Year award should go to… Steve Jobs. He did so many things right and set Apple up to surpass Exxon Mobil in market cap.

      But Om is right: these awards focus on actions, not results. With our goldfish memories, it’s like we forget that results come several years after actions.

  10. Man, are you in the Dogs house.
    No invitation to you if they show of their new world changing voice processing system in Android 4.X or will it be Android 5 to get the numbers equal.

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