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The Education of Google's Larry Page

In an exclusive interview, Google's co-founder reflects on the trials of his freshman year as CEO
Page and Brin in their Menlo Park garage-office five years before their IPO
Page and Brin in their Menlo Park garage-office five years before their IPOPhotograph by William Mercer McLeod

Larry Page is surrounded. On one side, Google’s chief executive officer confronts Facebook, the social networking phenom that is about to go public. On his other side is Apple, which has moved the playing field off the desktop computer—Google’s fiefdom—and onto smartphones and tablets. Thus Page, who became CEO of Google a year ago, has the task of steering the company he co-founded through territory defined by two rivals while fending off accusations that his brainchild has become yet another lumbering monopolist or, worse, a follower.

Sitting for an April 3 interview at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif., Page bridles at any suggestion that Google isn’t the destiny-defining innovator it once was. He’s wearing geek business casual—fleece jacket, logo shirt, jeans, black Converse sneakers. “Producing the best [products] we possibly can for users is our paramount thing,” he says. “I think we have demonstrated that over a very long period of time, with a whole variety of different issues we’ve faced around the world.”