Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, spent more than a decade as the Google’s CEO, taking the company from a startup to a global tech giant. He spoke with ABC News’ Real Biz about disagreements with Apple CEO Tim Cook, this whole privacy thing and why he thinks WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange is “paranoid.”
Schmidt teamed up with former product chief Jonathan Rosenberg to pen a book called “How Google Works,” released today by Grand Central Publishing. Rosenberg joined Google in 2002 and managed search, ads, Gmail, Android, apps, and Chrome and today is an adviser to Google’s co-founder Larry Page.
Google has won the top spot in Fortune’s list of “Best Companies” five times, and is one of the stalwarts of Silicon Valley innovation, with Google Glass, driverless cars and, of course, those money-making ads.
Schmidt and Rosenberg’s book focuses on the management of Google, revealing Schmidt’s leadership secrets of how to get everyone on your management team to agree on a big decision.
In an interview with ABC News’ chief business correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, Schmidt said: “You need buy-in and you need ownership for whatever the corporation is going to do,” to avoid the “bobble head” effect in which “everybody goes yes and then the moment they leave the table, they go and they fight against you.”
“Start your staff meeting by asking everyone their opinion and making sure everyone speaks,” he suggested.
Instead of beginning the meeting with the most senior head honcho in the room dominating the conversation, he said it’s important to get a discussion going from all of the people involved in the meeting to make sure the best idea comes out as fast as it can and then “set a deadline.”
The Mountain View, California-based company is not only famous for its decision making, it’s also known for its sneaker-wearing culture of co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and their motto, “Don’t be evil.” But Schmidt’s book reminds readers that Google is indeed a mammoth, global corporation.
Speaking with ABC News, Schmidt addressed a recent comment by Apple CEO Tim Cook that for Internet companies, “You’re the product.” While Cook didn’t address Google by name, he criticized firms that “build a profile based on your email content or Web browsing habits to sell to advertisers.”
“I think that’s not quite right,” Schmidt said of Cook’s letter published last week. “The fact of the matter is Google allows you to delete the information that we know about you and in fact, Google is so concerned about privacy that you could in fact, if you’re using Chrome for example, you can browse in what is called ‘incognito mode’ where no one sees anything about you. So I just don’t think that’s right.”
Days ago, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told the BBC and Sky News that, “Google’s business model is to spy,” and that the tech firm’s “behavior” is “a privatized version of the [National Security Agency].”
Though Assange prefaced that Google is not acting illegally.
Schmidt took a poke back at Assange’s comments, saying, “Well, he’s, of course, writing from the, shall we say, luxury lodgings of the local embassy in London. The fact of the matter is Julian is very paranoid about things and it’s true that the NSA did things that they shouldn’t have done, but Google has done none of those things. Google never collaborated with NSA and in fact, we’ve fought very hard against what they did and since what the NSA did which we do not like, we have taken all of our data, all of our exchanges, and we fully encrypted them so no one can get them, especially the government.”