Google CEO Is Tired of Rivals, Laws, Wants to Start His Own Country

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
May 15 2013 5:34 PM

Google CEO Is Tired of Rivals, Laws, Wants to Start His Own Country

Larry Page at the Google I/O conference keynote address
Larry Page wants to save the world, but things keep getting in the way.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In a surprise appearance at Google’s I/O conference today, CEO Larry Page took the stage to philosophize and take questions about the company’s products, their role in the world, and how Google can solve world hunger. Along the way, he blew off some steam about politics, the media, and all those other pesky tech companies that keep treating Google as a rival instead of welcoming it as an overlord a collaborative partner.

Will Oremus Will Oremus

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

It started when a guy from Mozilla asked a question about the future of the Web and mobile platforms. Page dove right in. “I’ve personally been quite sad at the industry’s behavior around all these things," he said. "If you take something as simple as IM, we’ve had an open offer to interoperate forever. Just this week Microsoft took advantage of that by interoperating with us. You can’t have people milking off of just one company.”

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He was referring to Microsoft’s announcement that it would incorporate Google Talk into Outlook.com, even though it doesn’t allow Google to incorporate Outlook functions into Gmail. But as AllThingsD’s Mike Isaac noted, he left out the part where Google recently sent Microsoft a cease-and-desist letter demanding that it remove the YouTube app from its Windows Phones.

Page wasn’t finished. “You can’t focus on negativity and zero-sum games,” he said. “I don’t know how to deal with all of those things, and I’m sad that the Web isn’t advancing as fast as it should be. We struggle with people like Microsoft.” A question about Oracle and Java got him going again. “We’ve had a difficult relationship with Oracle, including having to appear in court,” Page said. “Money is obviously more important to them than any collaboration.”

It turns out this is also the media’s fault. “Every story I read about Google is us vs. some other company, or some stupid thing. I just don’t find that very interesting. We should be building great things that don’t exist. Being negative isn’t how we make progress.”

To recap, Page criticized Microsoft for treating Google as a rival, blasted Oracle for caring too much about money, and then whined about everyone being so negative. Heck, if it weren’t for those other companies standing in the way, Google would have probably already solved world hunger. Well, except for all the laws and bureaucrats and journalists who are also standing in the way.

Fortunately, Page has an idea. What if Google could just build its own country with its own rules and do whatever it thought best for everyone?

“Maybe we can set aside part of the world,” he mused. “I like going to Burning Man. As a technologist maybe we need some safe places where we can try things and not have to deploy to the entire world.” (As The Verge noted in its live blog, “Larry wants a beta-test country, guys.”) He later lamented that people are reluctant to disclose their medical problems and speculated that the insurance industry was to blame. “We should change it so they have to insure people,” he said. “Maybe we have a safe place where people can go live in a world like that and see if it works.” Other tech companies could presumably come too, as long as they agreed to give Google free access to all their products and data and not to worry about making money themselves.

Help Larry out here, readers: What should he call his new country? Googletopia? Glassachusetts? Canada?

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

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