Google's 2009 shareholder meeting is today at 2 p.m. pst. As usual they're holding a press event prior to the shareholder meeting. Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt, SVP Corporate Development David Drummond, VP Search Products and User Experience Marissa Mayer and VP Product Management Susan Wojcicki are attending and taking questions.
Key topics discussed:
Apple: In response to a question about the FTC inquiry about overlap with the Apple/Google boards of directors, Schmidt says Apple doesn't see Google and Apple as a primary competitor, and so there shouldn't be issues with him being on the Apple board.
Antitrust: Drummond says he expect to see increasing antitrust scrutiny as Google continues to be successful. Schmidt says information is incredibly important. Governments will pay attention to what Google does, he says, and will hold Google to their core principles. Schmidt says Google understands that there are consequences to mistakes. Schmidt says Google is always trying to find a balance between what their end users need and other concerns. “We are more careful about when and how we do things that are going to raise concerns of any party.” He brings up book search, says careful planning has lead to a historic agreement that is winding its way through the court system.
Monetization of social networks: Susan “we've learned a lot about how to monetize this inventory, we believe there are ways to monetize over time but different from search because by nature different from search.” Says they've been working on how to serve those ads differently, talks about ads in activity streams.
Google selling AOL stake: Drummond – it was a financial decision to sell the stake. Eric quips “we love aol, we sent our best guy there to run it.”
Plans for customized news: Marissa, who just testified on news to congress, says they have a team looking at how news will evolve. how stories are presented. navigation. finding and traversing news. some things aren't as good in online news. comments. what to suggest next after a story is read. presentation of stories and how people move from one story to the next. Marissa is talking about the recent google labs products around news.
YouTube: question on estimated YouTube losses this year. Eric says he “believes youtube will eventually be a successful and profitable business. I don't know how long it will take. it is a huge traffic phenomenon.” Susan says the huge amount of traffic has attracted lots of advertisers. They've monetized hundreds of millions of videos, she says. Preroll formats are being tested, she says, and there's an opportunity to serve ads in different formats. On music videos, need a click to buy next to the video.
Cost cutting v. innovation: Question on how google keeps innovation going with cost cutting so aggressively. Eric says they're focused on being more precise in their actions. Susan says Google is focused on small teams that act like startups. Eric says its too early to speculate on what Google looks like post recession. Says Internet growth not slowing and people spending more time online.
Google Ventures Drummond says they've made initial investment and hired partners. Goal is to go early stage, professional investing in areas they care about, which is a wide variety of areas.
Cost per click decline: 10Q showed a 14% CPC decline, asked to comment. Eric says they won't comment much beyond the public statements.
Android: Is android an open platform for innovation v. carriers trying to splinter. Eric says this is a problem with any open source project.
China situation: Drummond says it is an ongoing challenge to operate there. YouTube continues to be blocked. issues with google.com from time to time. Says there's a preference for local businesses there. It's a difficult road, he says.
Google and Twitter: Marissa says lots of interesting things happening. Interesting from a search perspective. Some overlap with google trends. “we're interested in being able to add microblogging into search, but no specific plans.”
Android on Netbooks: Eric says no announcement on netbook strategy but says that netbooks are very real, and that people are using netbooks that are consistent with the cloud computing model. client device to access cloud services, google wants their services to work with netbooks and to keep an eye on this space.
Live blogging continuing…