Larry Page on the philosophy of being 10x better

  • culture
  • startup
  • strategy

Steve Levy from Wired just did a lengthy interview with Larry Page from Google.  Most of the stuff are cliche but there are two things that really jumped out on me.  I pasted them below and bold out the things I find most interesting.

On competition and the excitement of doing something new.

Wired: Google is known for encouraging its employees to tackle ambitious challenges and make big bets. Why is that so important?

Larry Page: I worry that something has gone seriously wrong with the way we run companies. If you read the media coverage of our company, or of the technology industry in general, it’s always about the competition. The stories are written as if they are covering a sporting event. But it’s hard to find actual examples of really amazing things that happened solely due to competition. How exciting is it to come to work if the best you can do is trounce some other company that does roughly the same thing? That’s why most companies decay slowly over time. They tend to do approximately what they did before, with a few minor changes. It’s natural for people to want to work on things that they know aren’t going to fail. But incremental improvement is guaranteed to be obsolete over time. Especially in technology, where you know there’s going to be non-incremental change.

On the importance of both innovation and commercialisation.

Wired: On the other hand, as the canard goes, the pioneers take the most arrows. Look at the experience of Xerox PARC, where fantastic innovations didn’t seem to help the corporation itself.

Page: PARC had a tremendous research organization and they invented many of the tools of modern computing. But they weren’t focused on commercialization. You need both. Take one company I admire, Tesla. They’ve not only made a really innovative car, but they’re probably spending 99 percent of their effort figuring out how to actually get it out to people. When I was growing up, I wanted to be an inventor. Then I realized that there’s a lot of sad stories about inventors like Nikola Tesla, amazing people who didn’t have much impact, because they never turned their inventions into businesses.