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Larry Page, CEO of the year? You kidding me?!

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Investor’s Business Daily has named Larry Page  of Google “CEO of the year.”(s goog) 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 (s QCOM) saw its stock price grow a shade over 9 percent in 2011. Intel?(S INTC) 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 (s AAPL) 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 (s MMI) 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.

26 Responses to “Larry Page, CEO of the year? You kidding me?!”

  1. Scott Wilson

    “Jobs once famously said that the iPhone was four years ahead of its competitors. Can Apple maintain that lead?” <– you really think that's still true?? I'd say they've fallen behind on nearly everything except market share.

  2. Callum Masson

    Neither qualify as CEO of the year candidates – the companies have too much momentum for the CEO to really make a big impact. Simplistic, sycophantic honors of this type are little more than some sort of bizarre hero worship.

    Consider what Tim Cook would have to have done in 2011 to derail Apple – cancel the iPhone and iPad launches… yeah – great job in avoiding that pit hole.

    Let’s find the CEO would avoided retrenchments most effectively in 2011 and award them; let’s find the CEO who maintained a positive growth outlook whilst also improving a measure such as carbon footprint reduction, increased charitable spending (Cook here though :) )

    let’s think out side the box – who do we want as CEO’s?

  3. Fourthletter58

    This is an example of how by choosing what facts you represent in your story you can very easily manipulate facts to justify your point. Google has seen revenue increases this year of 37% which is a huge number, a number you ignored and just focused on share price. I think you own a lot of Apple stock and like every other person with a blog you use it keep your investment high. Good luck with that.

  4. john doe

    In general CEO of the Year etc. are BS and one can cogently argue for other choices for the title, this is premature, etc. But using increase in share price as an argument is, IMHO, even crazier than the original effort to choose a best CEO. Share price is just about expectation of growth and as history has repeatedly shown, most often that expectation is based on very little logic. By that metric, Sam Palmisano would have been among the worst CEOs until the last year or so when IBM shares took off after a prolonged slump.

  5. Madhusudan. C.S

    When Obama was given a nobel peace prize in 2009, before he did anything even remotely close to what Mother Teresa did or Martin Luther King Jr did, then why not “Page is the CEO of the year”? Let us take all these awards, recognitions, etc. with a pinch of salt.

  6. 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.

  7. _____ 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.)

    • Rurik Bradbury

      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.

  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.