Today, Google CEO Eric Schmidt who is also Chairman of the Board of Directors at the New America Foundation (where I work) will give a speech and answer questions at an event organized by my organization and which I will stream live here at The Washington Note from 1:00 pm til 2:30 pm EST.
Schmidt’s talk is titled “Technology, Economic Growth, and Open Government.”
But it might just as well be called “America’s Choices: The Google Way or the Xerox Way?”
With all due respect to Xerox Corporation management (and I have been a stockholder of Xerox for about the last eight years), Xerox is a big company with a lot of assets that just sort of goes nowhere. To me it looks like an under-performing firm that used to have potential that just never gets performing. Its stock performance has shown the collective view that it probably won’t re-wire itself for strong future growth.
Google, in contrast, is a firm that has some weight and a lot of assets, but the valuation that it has in the market place, even in these stressed financial times, is based on the promise of strong future growth and of a firm that is constantly re-creating itself and opportunities to help design a bold and different future. Growth, promise, creativity all help make Google have a bigger economic footprint and valuation that many firms with the same income level and same general level of held assets.
But interestingly, Barack Obama had the CEOs of Google, Xerox, and the Chairman of Time Warner on stage with him after his meeting with his senior economic advisory team. Time Warner is another stock I’ve just held way too long that has gone nowhere. In corporate metaphorical terms, Obama had America’s past and present with him — and hopefully its future.
While I think there are future problems with Google — like how much information we want to allow one big firm to have on us, our libraries, and all of human knowledge and whether a 900 lb. Google should be able to secure rules that benefit the Google World but not the AT&T or other infrastructure worlds out there — I think that there’s little doubt that it is an amazing firm that has captured the imagination of many who use its products and are investing in the promise of that into which it is still “evolving.”
In a similar sense, China is considered to be globally important today because of the promise of what it is evolving into down the road. China is the “google among nations” today, and America looks a lot like Xerox — both very big entities with lots of assets that have been systemically underperforming.
It’s going to be interesting to see if Barack Obama and his team can absorb and deploy some of the futuristic techniques of a Google like approach to the world’s complex challenges. If not, then they’ve also got Anne Mulcahey (who actually is a great person — I just have problems with how her firm is running) to give advice.
I’ll be watching Eric Schmidt — who for the record has been a member of the Board of New America Foundation since the beginning when he was then CEO of Novell — from Madrid, Spain where I’m speaking for a London School of Economics Forum on “Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy.”
(I’ll post the video clips later here for people to watch after the fact.)
— Steve Clemons