Finally, we know the secret to Google's ( GOOG) success.It's plain old stupidity. And that's straight from the mouth of CEO Eric Schmidt, who sat down last Friday with a group of reporters for an informal Q&A session during the Herb Allen Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. One of the reporters was Reuters reporter Kenneth Li, who
In contrast to the subdued tone of most of his responses, Schmidt's idiot speech takes on a tone of overearnestness. I find it hard to listen to it without imagining Schmidt practicing it in front of his mirror. (Not to mention those
infamous clips of Schmidt in a public speaking class from the 1980s.) Nor is it terribly risky for Schmidt to say this. No one can argue with any credibility that Google, with the best search engine out there and growth rates that most companies can only dream about, is run by idiots. But the quote is too tantalizing for journalists and bloggers to not bite at. And you see how we have. What bugs me, though, is that it's not even original. Ever since the 2004 Red Sox, calling yourself an idiot has become such a common back-handed compliment that it's almost a cliché. Let's just hope Google's new tactic of mock humility doesn't lead Schmidt, Brin and Page to start sporting dreadlocks, corn rows and massive facial hair. Mr. Schmidt, I have followed the Boston Red Sox. I know the Boston Red Sox. The Boston Red Sox have broken my heart and mended it whole again. Mr. Schmidt, you Googlers are no idiots. Since Elliot Schrage took control of Google's public relations last fall, the company has gravitated away from arrogant aloofness toward arrogant accessibility. Listen in the interview how Schmidt insists, somewhat unctuously, how the reporters at hand are "smart guys," and his repeated insistence that he's not criticizing the press, right after he complains how the press invents stories or takes things out of context.
There is some truth to Schmidt's comments, however. Revenue did blossom after the Google backlash began in 2004, and its stock price soared. But since Google unveiled its kindler, gentler image at the press day on May 10, the stock has basically flat-lined. Google's stock closed at $402.98 on May 10. On Monday, it closed at $403.05. I've never owned Google stock, but I'm happy to help out Mr. Schmidt and his stagnant stock price. Google's attempt to spin a press it clearly looks down upon is disingenuous and pathetic. And -- oh, what the heck -- idiotic. There, I wrote it down for you. You can thank me later.