Google Inc. (GOOG) Chief Executive Officer Larry Page is in “much better” health after a condition that affected his ability to speak, Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said at a conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Schmidt said last month that Page had lost his voice and wouldn’t be speaking at some company events, including a July 19 conference call covering Google’s second-quarter results.
Schmidt, speaking yesterday at the annual Allen & Co. conference, also touched on a broad range of other topics, including the U.S. economy, Google’s acquisitions, demand for the Nexus 7 tablet and the value of Facebook Inc. shares.
A recovery in the U.S. economy will remain sluggish, Schmidt told reporters at the event. The pace of rebound in the U.S. is crucial to Mountain View, California-based Google, which as operator of the world’s largest Web-search engine relies on sales of ads to businesses. Google’s second-quarter revenue may rise 23 percent to $8.54 billion from the same period a year ago, according to the average of analyst estimates based on data compiled by Bloomberg.
Turning to the Nexus 7, a tablet-style computer introduced by Google last month, Schmidt said he’s been told that demand is “immense.” Google has begun taking orders for the machine before it hits store shelves.
Google’s acquisition pace is “normal” and remains focused mostly on smaller companies, Schmidt said. The company is making about one acquisition a week, he said. Google made one of its larger takeovers in 2006, when it paid $1.65 billion for YouTube LLC, the video-sharing site.
YouTube is “much more valuable” than the purchase price, Schmidt said yesterday.
YouTube, known for clips of skateboarding dogs and kids in playgrounds, has been focusing more on professional content, including funding small Web-video producers. Schmidt said the service could move into owning content outright someday, not just investing in it.
Schmidt also faced questions at the event about an antitrust investigation in Europe. There have been “back and forth” talks over the issues, Schmidt said. There are no liability reserves for possible fines, he said.
Google has outlined proposals to the European Union antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia in a letter responding to the probe, which is looking into allegations that the search engine discriminates against rivals. Almunia in May had asked it to make an offer to settle antitrust concerns.
Schmidt, who is attending the Idaho event with executives such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, said that it’s too early to know whether to buy shares of the social-networking service.
Facebook’s stock has only closed above its initial public offering price of $38 once, on the first day of trading on May 18. The shares fell less than 1 percent to $30.81 at the New York close. They are down 19 percent since the IPO.
Facebook is a “great American story,” Schmidt said. He added people should “wait six months” to help determine the company’s valuation.
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