Hearing from the leadership at Google is nothing new, as the company posts a “Founders’ Letter” each year with its annual report. Today though, we only heard from one of Google’s leaders, its CEO Larry Page. Page has been the CEO of Google (for the second time) for just over a year, and for the first time addressed the public in a letter called “Update from the CEO“.
In the letter, Page discusses where Google is today as a company and peppers in some future aspirations and goals. After a short introduction, the letter jumps into a section titled “A beautifully simple experience across Google”. That sounds like something from an Apple keynote, doesn’t it? It doesn’t take long for Page to mention Google+, describing it as a social layer, and not a social network, that is becoming to glue for all of Google’s products:
Think about basic actions like sharing or recommendations. When you find a great article, you want to share that knowledge with people who will find it interesting, too. If you see a great movie, you want to recommend it to friends. Google+ makes sharing super easy by creating a social layer across all our products so users connect with the people who matter to them.
While Page doesn’t give us updates on how many people are using Google+, he does point out that there have been 120 Google+ integrations to date throughout all of Google’s products. This proves to us that the company is serious about becoming more social, and that Google+ isn’t going away, ever. You simply can’t hook these features into your products “as a test”, only to pull them out. This means that Google’s social strategy is long-term and not just another sandbox experiment.
The fact that Google’s CEO jumps right into discussing how important it is to make its products social is a testament to a new unified, simplified, and personal direction.
Before Page can count his chickens and call Google+ a success, the company is staring privacy concerns directly in the face. With people like Senator Al Franken firing off letters urging the public to take how they share their information seriously, Google has to remind its customers that while it wants to make money, it’s not out to screw anyone over:
We have always believed that it’s possible to make money without being evil. In fact, healthy revenue is essential if we are to change the world through innovation, and hire (and retain) great people. As a child I remember reading about Nikola Tesla, a genius whose impact was severely limited by his failure to make money from his inventions. It was a good lesson. Today, most of our revenue comes from advertising. We take pains to make sure that users know when something is paid for, and we work hard to make these advertisements relevant for users. Better ads are better for everyone—better information or offers for users, growth for businesses, and increased revenue for publishers to fund better content.
Basically, Google wants us to trust the company and believe that all of our data is being put to good use. Better ads are better for us in the long run, according to Page. It’s almost as if Page wants us to pay no mind to the fact that his company tracks our every move, just because at the end of the day they create cool stuff like Google Glasses. It’s a tough sell, but you have to start somewhere I suppose.
The summary of the letter is simple: Trust us, we’re awesome. Ok Mr. Page, I trust you. But don’t screw us over, because the more social you make your products, the more tools we have to call you out on injustices we don’t agree with.