Larry Page has dueling flying car companies, but itâs self-driving tech that will get them off the ground
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Most of us can do little more than grumble about Donald Trump. But according to Huffington Post, the worldâs tech elite have joined billionaires and senior Republicans at a secretive meeting to âstop [the] Republican front-runner.â
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Google had a big 2015: It changed its logo
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Speaking in his first major interview since the formation of Alphabet,Â Google co-founder and now Alphabet CEO Larry PageÂ said that both he and Steve Jobs had been right in their different approaches to running their respective companies.
Steve JobsÂ had argued that GoogleÂ was doing too many things, and should adopt Apple’sÂ focused approach of doing a few things really well. Page said both approaches worked.
He was right. He did fine as well […] We’re trying to make a company for entrepreneurs [we’re trying to] think creatively.
Page said thatÂ part of why the company has its fingers in so many pies is that each time Google hitsÂ a problem with an external supplier, they start wondering whether it has to be like that. He gave the example of a transformer that took a year to arrive.
Why does it take a year? Why does it have to beÂ shipped on a train car and then a special truck? Is that really the resolution? It makes you wonder […] so ten years later, that might turn into a business.
More on the interview, and the full video, over atÂ 9to5Google.
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We learned earlier this week that Tim Cook would be speaking at a White House cybersecurity summit today, and it now appears he will be the only tech CEO to do so.Â USNews is reporting that CEOs of other top tech companies all declined President Obama’s invitation, sending lower-ranking execs in their place.
Unlike Apple’s Cook, other top executives at key Silicon Valley companies declined invitations to the summit. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Google’s Larry Page will not attend amid the ongoing concerns about government surveillance. Facebook spokesman Jay Nancarrow said Zuckerberg is unavailable to attend and that Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan will speak during a panel at the event.
It’s believed other CEOs consider refusing to take part to be the best way to express their objections to increased government surveillance of electronic communications, while Cook takes the opposite view: that it is important to speak up in defence of user privacy …Â
Cook’s stance on data security mirrors the company’s approach to human rights issues in the supply chain, where Apple believes it can make the most difference by applying pressure for change rather than steering clear of problematic countries.
Cook has frequently spoken about Apple’s commitment to privacy, contrasting with ad-funded companies like Facebook and Google where “youâre not the customer, youâre the product.” Cook posted a letter to the Apple website last September, in which he stated that “security and privacy are fundamental to the design of all our hardware, software, and services.” Apple also has a dedicated privacy section on its website.
Cook has expressed a commitment to transparency in how it handles government information requests, promising an annual report on the requests received and Apple’s responses. The companyÂ last year also began notifying customers when law enforcement agencies request user data.
Apple has been criticized by the FBI for encrypting iPhone data in a way that means not even Apple can decrypt it. We have a feeling the White House may not like what Cook has to say today …
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Fortune hasÂ somehow named Google CEO Larry Page its 2014 Business person of the Year beating out rival Apple CEO Tim Cook who earns the number 2 spot (despite stock prices) on Fortuneâs list of 50 executives.
Nearly four years into his tenure, Page has shown himself to be the worldâs most daring CEO. His fabled âmoonshotsâ now launch with regularity. Any one of them could change the lives of billions and help Google to remain at the top of the technology heap for generations. Improbably, Page has built his factory of the future while keeping Googleâs multi-billion dollar business humming and positioning the company for a dominant role in the era of wearables and Internet-connected cars and homes. In a world where only the paranoid survive, Page has redefined paranoia into unbounded ambition.
Fortune published an article that goes more in-depth about why Page earned the top spot in this yearâs list noting groundbreaking âmoonshotâ projects as part of the company’s experimental Google X department as a big motivating factor. Included is a wide-ranging interview with Page where he discusses everything from recent acquisitions to what he learned from Steve Jobs: “I used to have this debate with Steve Jobs, and he would always say, âYou guys are doing too much stuffâââŚ. He did a good job of doing one or two things really wellâŚ. Weâd like to have a bigger impact on the world by doing more things.â
For Cook’s part, Fortune had this to say about the CEO earning the number two position:
Replacing a legend is an exercise filled with peril. Yet three years into his stewardship of Steve Jobsâ company, it is becoming increasingly clear that Tim Cook knows what heâs doing as CEO of Apple. The companyâs stock is at an all-time high. Booming sales of larger iPhones and renewed enthusiasm for Mac computers are making up for slowing growth in iPads. The coming Apple Watch and the already released Apple Pay service show that Apple remains an innovatorâeven under a CEO known more for operational prowess than product savvy. Cook has replenished the management ranks at the top of Apple with relatively little rancor. The company remains secretive but has a whiff of openness. And with the purchase of the Beats headphone and streaming-music offering, Apple is reversing Jobsâ abhorrence for high-priced M&A deals. The low-profile Cook even stole the spotlight by matter-of-factly becoming the first openly gay CEO in the Fortune 500. The light still shines brightly in Appleâs executive suite, even without the legendary impresario who switched it on in the first place.
Page’s top spot over Cook comes despite Google’s stock price not performing nearly as well as Apple’s over the last year. While Fortune notes Google has grown 20% annuallyÂ for three years running, it also points out that it lags Apple’s growth despite outpacingÂ the NASDAQ. AAPL compared to GOOG over the past year below:
Fortune also highlighted the top 10 executives on the list as well as some other notable tech execs that made the top 50:
Fortune’s 2014 Top 10 People in Business:
1. Larry Page â Co-Founder and CEO, Google
2. Tim Cook â CEO, Apple
3. John Martin â Chairman and CEO, Gilead Sciences
4. Montgomery Moran and Steve Ells â Co-CEOs, Chipotle
5. Denise Ramos â CEO and President, ITT
6. Robert Iger â Chairman and CEO, Disney
7. Ken Hicks â CEO, Foot Locker
8. Mary Dillon â CEO, Ulta Beauty
9. George Scangos â CEO, Biogen
10. Jack Ma â Founder and Executive Chairman, Alibaba
-Mark Zuckerberg (#13), Jeff Bezos (#25), Warren Buffett (#34) and Howard Schultz (#47) all made the list for the fifth straight year.
-There are 7 women on this year’s list.
The full list of 50 executives on Fortuneâs 2014 Business person of the year list is available to view here.
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In an interview with the Financial Times, Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page talked about an ongoing debate that he had with Apple’s Steve Jobs: whether their companies were doing too much or too little to affect the lives of their customers.
Page, as is evident in Google’s seemingly unending push into new markets and technologies outside of search and even the web, came down on the side of doing as many things as possible to make an impact in peoples’ lives, while Jobs was insistent that a focused approach on a single set of problems was better for the company and its users.
Page even went so far as to say that “it seems like a crime” to sit on the resources of a company like Apple or Google and not “do something new.”
Another obstacle lies closer to home. In reaching for the tech industryâs ultimate prizes, Google may already be knocking up against the limits of what it is possible for one company to do. Page relates a frequent debate that he says he had with Steve Jobs, the boss of Apple, who died three years ago: âHe would always tell me, Youâre doing too much stuff. Iâd be like, Youâre not doing enough stuff.â
The argument he made to Jobs: âItâs unsatisfying to have all these people, and we have all these billions we should be investing to make peopleâs lives better. If we just do the same things we did before and donât do something new, it seems like a crime to me.â
But the idealism does not blind him to the problem of his own ambition. âWhat Steve said is right â you, Larry, can only manage so many things.â If he â and Google â are to win, they will have to beat the odds that have held big companies back in the past, particularly in the tech industry, where few leaders from one generation of technology have made it big in the next.
It appears thatÂ Apple’s new leadership has started to take the “do more” approach in recent years, as the company prepares to branch out into the health, fitness, fashion, and wearable industries in 2015. It may not be as big a jump as, say, manufacturing robotics, but it’s clear that Page’s guidance at Google has influenced how Apple sees its role as a tech company.
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In a ‘fireside chat’ with leading venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin discuss everything from the moment they nearly sold the company to why they are cautious about moving into health technology. One interesting angle for Apple fans was how the two contrasted their approach to that of Apple.
Brin – who runs Google X – said that the experimental wing of the company was about making a number of bets and hoping that some of them paid off.
From my perspective – running Google X – that’s my job, is to invest in a number of opportunities, each one of which may be a big bet. [...]
If you look at the self-driving cars, for example, I hope that that could really transform transportation around the world [but] it’s got many technical and policy risks. But if you are willing to make a number of bets like that, you’ve got to hope that some of them will pay off.
Page contrasted this approach with Apple, which focuses on a very small number of products.
I would always have this debate, actually, with Steve Jobs. Heâd be like, âYou guys are doing too much stuff.â And Iâd be like, âYeah thatâs true.â And he was right, in some sense. But I think the answer to that – which I only came to recently, as we were talking about this stuff – is that if you’re doing things that are highly interrelatedÂ [...] at some point, they have to get integrated.
Another difference between the two companies, say Page and Brin, is in their view of technology in the health sector. Apple’s Â long-awaited iWatchÂ is of course believed to be equipped with multiple health and fitness sensors, and the Healthbook app is a key feature of iOS 8. Google says that while it does have some health-related ambitions – such as glucose-reading contact lenses – it views the field with considerable caution.
Generally, health is just so heavily regulated. It’s just a painful business to be in. It’s just not necessarily how I want to spend my time. Even though we do have some health projects, and we’ll be doing that to a certain extent. But I think the regulatory burden in the U.S. is so high that think it would dissuade a lot of entrepreneurs.
You can watch the complete interview in the video above.
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‘Father of the iPod’Â Tony Fadell (right) and the rest of theÂ NestÂ team will become Google’s “core hardware group,” working on a variety of hardware projects and given access to “as many resources as it needs,” according to an unnamed source cited byÂ TechCrunch.
The new division will still work on hardware devices, but not necessarily thermostats or smoke detectors. In fact, Google would like Fadell to work on gadgets that make more sense for the company. Will it be a phone or a tablet? Itâs unclear for now [...]
When it comes to budget, Google is willing to let the Nest team use as many resources as it needs. In other words, the company is getting serious about consumer hardware, and Motorola was just a false start …Â
If true, it’s an extremely interesting move. It had been widely assumed that Google’s interest in Nest was primarily for the data it could glean from learning more about the behaviours of consumers, rather than in the hardware itself. Indeed, it was that fear which caused many toÂ react badlyÂ to Nest’s acquisition by Google.
If Google does indeed have ambitions to move into consumer hardware, its acquisition of a team comprising mostly Apple engineers and led by Tony Fadell may cause some worried looks within Apple. Couple the Nest team to the patents it acquired – and is reportedly retaining – following theÂ purchaseÂ andÂ saleÂ of Motorola, and Google would be extremely well-placed to create smartphones and tablets which might pose a serious threat to Apple’s dominance.
The one piece that doesn’t quite seem to fit is Google’s apparentÂ cozying up to Samsung. That doesn’t gel with the idea of Google making rival devices.
But with home automation and the Internet of things flavor of the year, perhaps Google’s hardware plans don’t need to includeÂ the smartphone business. With a team of that calibre, it may even be looking to Fadell to answer the question ‘what next after Glass?’.
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Steve Jobs isn’t exactly a man known for keeping his thoughts to himself which is why excerpts from a new book found by Business Insider documenting the Google-Apple smartphone war is grabbing attention. According to the book written by Fred Vogelstein, Google was already working on its first Android-powered smartphone when Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007.
When Apple launched the iPhone, Rubin recognized that his grand Android plan would have to be tossed out. In fact, Rubin watched the webcast from the back of a cab in Las Vegas even making the driver pull over so he could watch the entire presentation. According to the book, Rubin said: “Holy crap, I guess we’re not going to launch that phone.”
Ethan Beard, an early Android development executive told the author that “We knew that Apple was going to announce a phone. Everyone knew that. We just didn’t think it would be that good.” An unnamed Android engineer even went as far as to say their work on Android looked awful when compared to the iPhone: “What we had looked so … nineties.”
Vogelstein reports that Job was furious with Google, aÂ revelation that has been so well documentedÂ it’s almost hard at this point to imagine Jobs not furious with anyone. Jobs was quoted as saying “Everything is a f**king rip off of what we’re doing.”
At this point in history Jobs had a good working relationships with Larry Page and Sergey Brin as well as having Eric Schmidt on the Apple board. The book states that all three had been advising Jobs that their future smartphone platform was very different from the iPhone and Jobs took their words to heart…until he saw what they were working on.
Well, Jobs being Jobs requested a meeting with himself, Scott Forstall, the designer of the iPhone software and Google’s Larry Page, Alan Eustance and Andy Rubin. While the content and exchanges that actually took place behind closed doors are unknown, one Apple executive briefed by Jobs after the meeting said “It got incredibly personal…Jobs said that Rubin was steamed, telling him his position was anti-innovation. And this is where Steve was demeaning to Andy, saying Andy was trying to be like him, look like him, have the same haircut, the same glasses, the same style.”
Even as Apple got Google to make the changes Jobs wanted after the meeting, Vogelstein reports that Jobs told Google how to take things out of Android, not just what they couldn’t do with it. Rubin was apparently furious that his bosses didn’t stand up to Apple and considered quitting Google but obviously did not.Â Rubin would go on to help Android dominate the smartphone worldÂ as the platform hits 80% global marketshare. Rubin never forgot that meeting though even hanging a sign that read “STEVE JOBS STOLE MY LUNCH MONEY” on his office white board.
Rubin may have had the last laugh with marketshare and Apple with profits, but one thing clear is that Steve Jobs will forever be remembered not only as a visionary, but a man who made no effort to hide his thoughts or feelings.
Full Amazon excerpt:
The Moon Mission
The fifty-five miles from Campbell to San Francisco is one of the nicest commutes anywhere. The journey mostly zips along the Junipero Serra Freeway, a grand and remarkably empty highway that abuts the east side of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Known as 280 to locals, it is one of the best places in Silicon Valley to spot a start-up tycoon speed-testing his Ferrari and one of the worst places for cell phone reception. For Andy Grignon in his Porsche Carrera, therefore, it was the perfect place for him to be alone with his thoughts early on January 8, 2007.
This wasnât Grignonâs typical route to work. He was a senior engineer at Apple in Cupertino, the town just west of Campbell. His morning drive typically covered seven miles and took exactly fifteen minutes. But today was different. He was going to watch his boss, Steve Jobs, make history at the Macworld trade show in San Francisco. Apple fans had for years begged Jobs to put a cell phone inside their iPods so they could stop carrying two devices in their pockets. Jobs was about to fulfill that wish. Grignon and some colleagues would spend the night at a nearby hotel, and at 10:00 a.m. the following day theyâalong with the rest of the worldâwould watch Jobs unveil the first iPhone.
Getting invited to one of Jobsâs famous product announcements was supposed to be a great honor. It anointed you as a player. Only a few dozen Apple employees, including top executives, got an invite. The rest of the spots were reserved for Appleâs board of directors, CEOs of partnersâsuch as Eric Schmidt of Google and Stan Sigman at AT&Tâand journalists from around the world. Grignon got an invite because he was the senior engineer for all the radios in the iPhone. This is a big job. Cell phones do innumerable useful things for us today, but at their most basic they are fancy two-way radios. Grignon was in charge of the equipment that allowed the phone to be a phone. If the phone didnât make calls, connect with Bluetooth headsets, or connect to Wi-Fi setups, Grignon had to answer for it. As one of the iPhoneâs earliest engineers, heâd dedicated two and a half years of his lifeâoften seven days a weekâto the project. Few deserved to be there more than he did.
But as Grignon drove north, he didnât feel excited. He felt terrified. Most onstage product demonstrations in Silicon Valley are canned. The thinking goes, why let bad Internet or cell phone connections ruin an otherwise good presentation? Jobsâs presentations were live, however. It was one of the things that made his shows so captivating. But for those in the background, such as Grignon, few parts of the job caused more stress. Grignon couldnât remember the last time a Jobs show of this magnitude had gone sideways. Part of what made Steve Jobs such a legend was that noticeable product-demo glitches almost never happened. But Grignon found it hard to recall the last time Jobs was so unprepared going into a show.
Grignon had been part of the iPhone launch-preparation team at Apple and later at the presentation site in San Franciscoâs Moscone Center. But he had rarely seen Jobs make it all the way through his ninety-minute show without a glitch. Jobs had been rehearsing for five days, yet even on the last day of rehearsals the iPhone was still randomly dropping calls, losing the Internet connection, freezing, or just shutting down.
âAt first it was just really cool to be at rehearsals at allâkind of like a cred badge. âFuck yeah, I get to hang out with Steve,ââ Grignon said. Like everything else that surrounded Jobs, the preparations were as secret as a U.S. missile attack on Afghanistan. Those who were truly in felt as if they were at the center of the universe. From Thursday through the end of the following week, Apple completely took over Moscone. Backstage it built an eight-by-eight-foot electronics lab to house and test the iPhones. Next to that it built a greenroom with a sofa for Jobs. Then it posted more than a dozen security guards twenty-four hours a day in front of those rooms and at doors throughout the building. No one got in or out without having his or her ID electronically checked and compared with a master list that Jobs had personally approved. More security checkpoints needed to be cleared once visitors got inside. The auditorium where Jobs was rehearsing was off-limits to all but a small group of executives. Jobs was so obsessed with leaks that he tried to have all the contractors Apple had hired for the announcementâfrom people manning booths and doing demos to those responsible for lighting and soundâsleep in the building the night before his presentation. Aides talked him out of it.
âIt quickly got really uncomfortable,â Grignon said. âVery rarely did I see him become completely unglued. It happened. But mostly he just looked at you and very directly said in a very loud and stern voice, âYou are fucking up my company,â or, âIf we fail, it will be because of you.â He was just very intense. And you would always feel an inch tall [when he was done chewing you out].â Grignon said that you would always ask yourself two questions during one of these lectures: ââIs it my shit that broke this time?â and âIs it the nth time it broke or the first time?ââbecause that actually mattered. The nth time would frustrate him, but by then he might have figured out a way around it. But if it was the first time, it added a whole new level of instability to the program.â Grignon, like everyone else at rehearsals, knew that if those glitches showed up during the real presentation, Jobs would not be blaming himself for the problems, he would come after people like Grignon. âIt felt like weâd gone through the demo a hundred times and that each time something went wrong,â Grignon said. âIt wasnât a good feeling.â
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The iPhone didnât work right for a good reason; it wasnât close to being finished. Jobs was showing off a prototype. He just didnât want the public to know that. But the list of things that still needed to be done before the iPhone could be sold was enormous. A production line had yet to be set up. Only about a hundred iPhones even existed, all of them of varying degrees of quality. Some had noticeable gaps between the screen and the plastic edge, others had scuff marks on the screen. Thus no one in the public was allowed to touch an iPhone after Jobs unveiled it, despite a day of press briefings and a whole exhibit set up for them in the convention center. The worry was that even the best prototypes wouldnât stand close scrutiny, Grignon said. Theyâd look fine at a distance and for Jobsâs demo, but if you held one in your hand, âYou would laugh and say, âWow, this thing really looks unfinished.ââ
The phoneâs software was in even worse shape. A big chunk of the previous four months had been consumed figuring out why the iPhoneâs processor and its cell radio wouldnât reliably communicate. This huge problem was akin to a car with an engine that occasionally doesnât respond to the accelerator, or wheels that occasionally donât respond to the brake pedal. âIt almost brought the iPhone program to a halt,â Grignon said. âWe had never seen a problem this complicated.â This was ordinarily not a problem for phone makers, but Appleâs obsession with secrecy had kept Samsung, the manufacturer of the phoneâs processor, and Infineon, the maker of the phoneâs cell radio, from working together until Apple, in desperation, flew teams of engineers from each company to Cupertino to help fix the problem.
Jobs rarely backed himself into corners like this. He was well-known as a master taskmaster, seeming to always know just how hard he could push his staff so that they delivered the impossible. But he always had a backup, a Plan B, that he could go to if his timetable was off. Six months prior heâd shown off Appleâs upcoming operating system, Leopard. But that was after letting the date for the final unveiling slip.
But Jobs had no choice but to show off the iPhone. He had given this opening keynote at every Macworld since heâd returned as Appleâs CEO in 1997, and because he gave public presentations only once or twice a year, he had conditioned Apple fans to expect big things from them. Heâd introduced iTunes here, the iMac that looked like a fancy desk lamp, the Safari web browser, the Mac mini, and the iPod shuffle.
It wasnât just his own company that Jobs had to worry about disappointing this time. AT&T was expecting Jobs to unveil the iPhone at Macworld too. In exchange for being the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the United States, AT&T had given Jobs total control of the design, manufacture, and marketing of the iPhone. It had never done anything like this before. If Jobs didnât launch on time, AT&T could back out of its deal. Itâs not hard to explain that a product called the iPhone that couldnât make calls would sell poorly. Days before, Jobs had flown to Las Vegas to give AT&Tâs top mobile executives a limited demo of the iPhone. But they were expecting a full show at Macworld.
Lastly, the iPhone was truly the only cool new thing Apple was working on. The iPhone had been such an all-encompassing project at Apple that this time there was no backup plan. âIt was Apple TV or the iPhone,â Grignon said. âAnd if he had gone to Macworld with just Apple TV [an experimental product back then], the world would have said, âWhat the hell was that?ââ
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