Asked for his views on Microsoft’s revamped search engine Bing, *Google* CFO Patrick Pichette said at the Credit Suisse Global Media and Communications Convergence Conference that the company was analyzing its new competition. The executive committee at Google (NSDQ: GOOG) — which includes CEO Eric Schmidt and co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page — is set to review it tomorrow, he said. But Pichette said that Google was continuously making changes to its own search engine: “People should understand that Google changes every day. ….Typing in the Google bar gets you suggestions — that wasn’t there five months ago and you haven’t noticed it.”
During his 10 months at the company, Pichette has overseen aggressive cost culling. He said that the company’s employees were now “more aware of waste than when I showed up.” For instance, he noted that the company had eliminated water bottles from its Mountain View headquarters, because it was wasteful (particularly in terms of carbon emissions). “You add it up to all of our employees — it’s millions of dollars,” he said. Similarly, he said the company had cut some of its cafeterias. “We did a simple analysis that we had two or three cafes that were poorly attended at night and we threw a ton of food away.”
But despite the cost-cutting, he said that Google would “pounce if we … find a great opportunity for whatever reason in the short term.”
Other highlights, including his views on Twitter and on the company’s relationship with AOL (NYSE: TWX) after the jump.
— Twitter: Asked about the company’s plans for its cash, Pichette said it was “a true strategic asset.” He noted Twitter (although he warned not to read into his mention of the company, which has been said to be in some sort of partnership talks with Google). “Who knew Twitter existed 24 months ago?” Pichette asked the audience. “That’s my point. It’s not about Twitter. It’s about the environment of Silicon Valley. In that context, to have strategic degree of freedom is a formidable asset.”
— AOL: On the topic of the company’s relationships with other firms, Pichette said that the company had a “very close partnership with AOL.” However, he added that “today the deal would look different.” Google has an ad selling relationship with AOL and also owns a stake in the company, although it is being purchased back as part of Time Warner’s plans to spin off its internet business.
— Monetizing YouTube: “People should take comfort of the trajectory of experimentation that has happened on YouTube over the last year,” Pichette said, citing the introduction of new premium content to the video site. “It’s an area that has a lot of focus for management and a lot of progress.”
— Strong sectors: Pichette noted that several ad sectors were performing especially well, including the auto sector. “Once you have a pipeline and you need to move the stuff, you have a channel proven to give you a good ROI,” he said. He also noted that the education sector was performing well, since more people are going back to school due to the recession. All in all, he said, the recession had proven that Google’s business model “is incredibly robust.”