Did Eric Schmidt Step Down Because He 'Screwed Up' on Social Media?

Examining what the Google executive said at the D9 conference

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Last night, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt stole the stage at All Things D's D9 conference in Rancho Palos Verde, California. The standout among other headline-making statements showed Schmidt not only taking the blame for the search company missing out on the social media boom but also expressing remorse about not being a better CEO. This leads one to wonder if Schmidt's failure to launch Google into the social arena lost him his job as chief executive--he's now the executive chair. Some of his other statements about the future of online commerce, the role of privacy in Google's growth, and the difference between humans and computers are interesting, too. Here's a quick round-up of Schmidt's key statements on social media and more.

On Google's failed social strategy…

Three years ago I wrote memos talking about this general problem… I clearly knew I had to do something and I failed to do it I knew that I had to do something and I failed to do it. A CEO should take responsibility. I screwed up.

On Facebook…

I admire some things [about Facebook]. We missed something -- identity. Facebook great site to spend time with your friends. It's the first way to disambiguate identity -- you need to know who you're dealing with online. From Google's perspective, if there were an alternative, we could use it to make search better, navigation on Android devices, maps we can forecast where you and your friends will be. We'll use technology we're announcing over next while to make our current products better.

On Google chasing Facebook…

We've tried very hard to partner with Facebook," he said. "Traditionally they've done deals with Microsoft.

On the rules of the Internet…

Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook are all exploiting platforms well. We've never had four companies growing so much in aggregate. (You can debate who's 5th and 6th -- PayPal, Twitter.) 

But those four: each is consumer brand that provides something you can't do otherwise. Amazon -- world's largest store. Facebook -- every friend you've ever had, including ones you can't quite remember. Us -- all the world's information. Apple -- beautiful products. Global products with reach and economics that 10 or 20 years ago one company had. Microsoft, before that IBM. 

At the time we were concerned about single company dominance. Now, each company is exploiting [their] platform for creativity.

On government tampering with the internet…

I'm concerned about Balkanization of the Internet. Legislation in the Senate to criminalize certain DNS entries based on repeat offenders. Never would have occurred to me that legislators would start to tamper with basic fabric of Internet.

Very concerned we'll end up with an Internet per country.

On privacy…

Privacy is a compromise between the interest of the government and the citizen. The more that is standardized, probably the better. [As for Steve Jobs' accusation that Android is a probe in your pocket] we don't take info your phone generates about your location and suck it into search… We don't suck it into any of our products. What does Android do with the location info? There's an opt-in for using that information if you want to use social products like Latitude. Some info goes back to Google anonymized, but we store it.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.