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Conversation With Google CEO Eric Schmidt

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4:20: The grand ballroom for the welcome message and a talk by Google CEO Eric Schmidt was packed; I skipped upstairs to a swank overflow room catered by Google. Remember those Google snack rooms? They turned this room into one of them.

4:21: O’Reilly (owner of O’Reilly Media) looks good on the overflow screen; he lost the creepy Dov Charney look of a few months ago and now looks like a clever but distinguished gentleman. Host (and Federated Media founder) John Battelle looking like the good guy in a soap opera as always.

Schmidt should be on soon, but they still haven’t turned on the sound. More updates to follow.

4:27: Got M&M’s from the candy shelf. Just thought you’d want to know that. Audio’s on in the overflow, the press room is still roomy (feels like the Cylon cinema scenes), HERE’S ERIC SCHMIDT!

4:29: Battelle interviewing Schmidt. Schmidt says Google wanted to be a part of video, now that it’s a “fundamental part of the Internet.” “The most likely scenario is that we’re going to keep YouTube a separate property.” “It’s clear that there’s a viral component…the underlying draw to see what other people are doing…is a whole new paradigm.”

4:30: Battelle: Was a huge part of the purchase price actually set aside for potential lawsuits, as many said after the deal (especially after a rumor posted by billionaire blogger Mark Cuban)? Schmidt says no.

4:33: How does Google deal with paranoid YouTube users trying to “take down the man” that took over YouTube? Schmidt: “As long as we’re respecting the rights of end users — which we care a lot about — then we should be fine.” Says most historical big businesses neglected users, and that’s what Google tries to do differently.

4:35: Battelle mentions Google rejecting the FBI request for a week’s worth of user queries. Audience applauds at the mention. Schmidt again points to end users — who would want their info shared?

By the way, this overflow room is lit by Google candles. No joke. They’re vanilla scented. Do you think Schmidt uses these with his wife girlfriend?

4:39: Schmidt told Battelle backstage, says Battelle, that he didn’t think O’Reilly’s definition of Web 2.0 was broad enough. Not sure what’s missing out of this definition — flying kittens? Magical worlds? Two girls for every guy?

4:43: Talking about networked computing through web-based apps, Schmidt gets a bit testy: “We don’t call it an office suite. It’s not an office suite.” In other words: “We’re NOT competing with Microsoft, we’re NOT competing with Microsoft…”

4:44: “The focus that they [Microsoft] have is not the focus that we have.” Battelle keeps pushing Schmidt like a Hardball anchor pushing Gore to say he’ll run again.

4:48: Schmidt repeats his usual press line about all of Google’s recent partnerships: They make them because Google was considered bad at partnerships. (In other words, they’re practice for the real deals.)

Schmidt says Internet ads will remain the majority of Google’s ad market, but notes that they’ve moved into radio ads and are now selling newspaper ads, all in the form of a bid-based marketplace.

4:53: Audience member: “Do you think it’s possible to build another YouTube, playing by the rules of copyright?” Schmidt sees a presumption there — that YouTube didn’t play by the rules — and disagrees with it. But if someone created something better, he says, yes, it could dominate over YouTube.

Battelle: “You run the company as a triumvirate. Who wins when you get into an argument with a founder?”
Schmidt: “They always win…I’m the one with the experience who’s late. Left to their own devices they’d be early and right, but too early.”

Schmidt’s offstage, time for entrepreneur Joi Ito, unless they skip forward to Barry Diller since they’re 15 minutes behind schedule.

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* Originally published at ValleyWag.

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Nick Douglas writes the Silicon Valley gossip rag Valleywag. On the side, he writes Fibonacci poetry and short stories about net-saturated life.

Conversation With Google CEO Eric Schmidt
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