Google's Secret Sauce Is Larry Page

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- When I have written about Google (GOOG) in the past, I have often called its infrastructure its secret sauce.

Google's blow-out earnings, however, may have more to do with something other than its low-cost, global cloud.

Maybe this Larry Page fellow knows something. Maybe Larry Page is Google's secret sauce.

Page founded Google much as Steve Jobs founded Apple. But, unlike Jobs, Page never left. Instead, he did a CEO apprenticeship on the job, for nearly a decade, under Eric Schmidt. When he became CEO, at the start of 2011, he was already seasoned, and his hair was already going silver.

Since becoming CEO, Page has dramatically narrowed the focus of the company. As one Quora user put it, there's more wood behind fewer arrows.

The whole company is more professional and more focused. Major functions are concentrated on its Mountain View headquarters, and there are fewer of them. The days of wild experimentation are over.

Page has focused on mobile, on social, and on the company's search algorithms, all in an effort to transform ads from annoyances to real service. It's working. Over the last year Google's cost per click, its base ad rate, fell 8% while the number of clicks was up 26%.

This means Google is, increasingly, your best advertising bargain. Competitors - whether they're in TV, or in any other medium, face a company that is delivering more customers for less money, and an advertising model based on results rather than eyeballs.

This is an important inflection point. Ever since the Web was spun, companies have been promising that intrinsic advertising, ads pushed based on who is using the site, would become more effective than extrinsic advertising, ads pushed based on the content next to it.

Google seems to have cracked that code, and this quarter brought revenues of $14.9 billion including traffic acquisition costs (TAC), with a full 20% of that money, $2.97 billion, hitting the net income line.

Put it this way. The Interactive Advertising Bureau estimated that in 2011 U.S. Internet advertising was a $31.7 billion market. Google will easily double that this year, all by itself.

The star of the ad show is now YouTube, and 40% of its traffic is now from mobile devices. This is also an important inflection point. We're accustomed to TV and Internet being competitors. Now, increasingly, the Internet is TV, and Google is leading the way in monetizing it.

Everything Page's Google does is aimed at collecting the data needed to drive the extrinsic ad train. The Chrome browser collects data. The Google Plus social network collects data. The Android mobile operating system collects data. And Google uses this data to deliver search results that make its ad rates look cheaper than any other source.

Ever since Google was founded, Page has focused on search. It didn't become a "portal," as Wall Street insisted Yahoo become. Page looked at all the factors that would enable search to find something, starting with infrastructure, and put the company's money into it.

Now he has transformed the world we live in, replaced the media reality with his own, and he's still just 40 years old.

Everyone keeps looking for the next Steve Jobs, the next great founder with a vision that can transform the world. He's here. His name is Larry Page. And business is going to have to deal with him for a very long time to come.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

At the time of publication the author owned 20 shares of GOOG.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and a tech reporter since 1982. His specialty has been getting to the future ahead of the crowd, then leaving before success arrived. That meant covering the Internet in 1985, e-commerce in 1994, the Internet of Things in 2005, open source in 2005 and, since 2010, renewable energy. He has written for every medium from newspapers and magazines to Web sites, from books to blogs. He still seeks tomorrow from his Craftsman home in Atlanta.