tv The David Rubenstein Show Peer to Peer Conversations Bloomberg December 28, 2016 8:00pm-8:31pm EST
david: what propelled do to pick google is the company you wanted to go to? who cares about a search engine? >> i do not think google was going to be that successful. >> is an awkward when you are dealing with the founders? --id: it seems the travelers a driverless car phenomenon is on its way. >> more than 32,000 people scheduled to die this year. david: have you resolved the issues with europe? >> would you fix your time, please?
david: i thought people would not recognize me as my tie was fized. all right. ♪ i do not consider myself a journalist. no one what else consider myself a journalist. i began to take on the life of being an interviewer even though i have a day job of running a private equity firm. how do you define leadership? what is it that makes you tick? when you joined google, june -- google was a small company. did you in your wildest dreams imagine it will become the second most soluble company in the entire world? >> i do not think any of us to. when i met them, they seemed incredibly intelligent. we had this huge argument over attempting -- something
technical and i had not had a good of an argument over a long time and i thought i had to work with these people. i want to stay with the company that worked in one building. ceo at thewere a time you're ready to go to google. what propelled you to pay google is a company wanted to go to because you have many opportunities? >> who cares about a search engine? it will not matter very much. who uses search engines. he said, this is and what they were doing was so interesting and at the people they had recruited were so compelling, that i just had to be there. or not that novel at the time because of her plenty of search engine companies, so wanted to think google had a search engine that was going to change the world? i did not think google was going to be successful but i thought the technology was unusually innovative. of the previous search
engines have used ranking that was easily manipulated by business forces and so forth. larry page had invented something known as page rank which is a different algorithm, different wave to search and it had spread virally at stanford and then throughout the bay area and it was all word-of-mouth. what a great project. david: google is aware that existed before that kind of make infinity and it is spelled differently. did google intentionally spell it differently questio? >> there was a number called named by a0th it was goggl. mathematician it was too hard to pronounce so he decided it should be called google. david: now the company is called also that, so wanted to pick google as the original name and why did you change it to alphabet in terms of the parent? >> after>> 15 years of being
google, there were all these other companies that were proto-companies, not really businesses with real ceos and we talked internally at great length about how you get great companies founded and the answer ceos, strong incentive programs, boards and directors. there are not other models. how do we re-create that within the context of google? that is what awful that is. it is a holding company of which google is the best known. many technology companies like microsoft, apple, facebook are run, the ceo's for initially the founders. you had two people that were initially the founders, but they wanted a ceo with more experience. was it awkward to come and and become the ceo when you are dealing with founders without the ceo title? >> they had been searching for someone they could work with for 16 months.
they would have each of the candidates do something with them for the weekend, so they would go skiing with someone and then see if they were compatible. when i met them, we all had similar backgrounds, but it was an immediate click. i always knew based on what had happened in the 1980's it was their company and my job was to make their company successful. when you were interviewed by them, was in a normal interview? >> i walked into a tiny office in an incredibly small building, which google still has by the way. they had a lot of food and my biography on the wall and they proceeded to ask each and every question possible and i had never been so thoroughly questioned and i had just gone to visit. they came to a product i was building and they said, this is the stupidest product ever made, which i of course had to respond
to. david: you did not think you would get the job after they said that? >> as i left the building which was a building i had when i worked there years earlier, showing you how history repeats itself, i knew i would be back. david: when you did come back when you joined, did you realize that advertising would be the medium to which would actually make the company grow? >> no, i was quite convinced that the advertising approach they had taken did not work at all. when i became ceo i was concerned there was something wrong and i actually asked them to audit the cash counts two people selling these ads, and what we learned was these targeted ads worked incredibly well, even though they were these little text ads and that discovery in the subsequent algorithm improvements which were done by impossibly young and creative engineers, who i
sort of viewed as experimenting with things, created what is google. david: the culture research unusual at the time. others have emulated it but it was kind of a culture of, do what you want, what you want, sleep in the office if you want. >> we do have a dress code. you have to or something. david: ok. >> to have problems where engineers would move and and put cots on the floor. you can do anything you want with google but you cannot live here. you have to have it at somewhere else. we encourage people to bring pets. we have a lot of rules about the pets. if your pet was over here, you had to keep it over here. david: what about the food. you have free food for everybody . what was the purpose behind that? >> the free food really changed everything, but the real reason we get food, and of course many of these things are marketed at the time that there was a serious business behind it.
in the case of the food, this was a serious idea. families eat dinner together and he wanted the company to be a family and so if you had people with proper good food, processed lunch and dinner, -- breakfast, lunch and dinner they would work as teams and in whatever way made sense. the invented something called the idea is for each of the employees, especially the engineers, if they are interested in something, they can spend 20% of the time on whatever they are interested in. how could you run a company that way? that about the engineers who were sitting there at dinner to have conversations about what do you think, what you think a moment to thank question mark larry page who was looking at her ad just as they came out and he studied them and put a big sign on the wall and he wrote, these ads suck.
this one, this one, this one. i was thinking this is some of the steeple google thing, right? it is not even going to happen. we have a manager, a plan, so this is friday afternoon. and a in monday morning completely set of teams had seen the sign and have invented over the weekend what today is the underlying and system of google and delivered it monday morning. that could not have occurred without such a culture. david: have you gone to the businesses that have come out of the 20% time? >> most people believe the 20% time is the source of real creativity. david: one time i think you had told me that you are out of the office and you came back to your office and somebody had occupied your office. it is important to remember at
the time culture seemed unusual tryingnew this so i was not to commit a phone call in the culture. my system had a look on her face like something bad had happened and i walked into my office, which is eight feet by 12 feet and here is my new roommate moving himself and, working and so forth. i did not know it had a roommate and after all i am the ceo. someone should tell me these things, right? i go, ok. he says, nice to meet you. i go, why are you here? s occupied and i was in a six person office and it was too loud. i thought, what to say to this. if i say get out of my office, they are going to fire me for
something. i thought, ok did you ask permission? he goes, yes i asked my boss and he said it was a great idea. i said, ok, so we sat next to each other. he would program and i would do my work literally next to each other for a year. we became best friends. david: do you think united states government is better at sign the terrorism than other governments against us? >> when i worry most about is russia. they are not shy about it. they do not mind people knowing about it. ♪
you grew up in virginia, what makes you think you wanted to be an engineer? this was the time of the space program where everyone wanted to be an astronaut. in my high school they have a terminal. it my father had the good thoughts to get one for our house, which is highly unusual at the time so i spent every evening working in reprogramming and so forth. today if i were a 15-year-old at home i would have five personal computers, and sound blaring out of the speakers. david: he went to high school in virginia, you must've done well to get into princeton. au knew you wanted to be student at princeton. >> when i got to princeton i decided i was not a very good architect but i was a much better programmer. that ion was kind and was advanced enough that i was able to skip the introductory
courses and go straight to the advanced courses in the graduate programs. david: you must have done well because then you got a scholarship to go to berkeley and get your phd. was it hard to move across the country? >> no, but to give you in a sample of how naive people work am i decided it wanted to move to california because i heard it was nice and sunny beaches but of course i went to the wrong part. this is right before google maps. which isat bell labs the basis for much of computing today is a junior programmer. i worked at xerox research ander where the workstation the screens and many editors and the networks used today are invented as the young programmer, so i was unusually fortunate to be as a young person an assistant to the people doing that kind of research. from there i went to micros systems where i was executive for many years. david: from there you were recruited? >> i was at novell for 14 years.
as the company became bigger and bigger it dominated the search business with 90% more or less. why did google site we wanted to do other things? we do not just want to be in the search business but decided to go into other things. let's talk about a few of them. >> the motto was not, only search the web it was all of the world's information. information is probably consumed, so the company set out with all of the hiring and the talent to begin to solve these problems and became interested in maps. , youtubea huge company as well. we built an enterprise system that is incredibly well. i can go on and on. in some cases we brought -- but small companies like google earth and in other cases it was companies we grew ourselves. the whole idea was to integrate
information. at some point for five years ago, we became interested in solving other problems, not just information problems the problems were digital technology could make a material difference. the most obvious being self driving cars. we have been working on that as a research project. david: you feel safe in these cars? >> i get in these cars on the highways in california and it is driving and i decided it is following too close. i can think to the engineer and he says, we are exactly right. of course, they got it right. it gets off the freeway and parks itself and all of those. in other cases i am driving in the self driving car and it turns left with a mother in a child crossing the street illegally and i'm going, no, this is the movie you have seen but it comes to a stop.
the technology works and it works because there is a powerful laser imager on the top of the car which sees more accurately than we do. imagine a car with vision all around it still just in front of it. that is how bad this is. imagine if we could reduce by half or one third or a quarter. most of the accidents are driver induced. we may ultimately be able to make a driving accident a very rare event. david: you have been involved in artificial intelligence. his artificial intelligence interest for humans or will it be helpful to humans? eric: i would say this extraordinarily useful. let me give you examples. today, artificial intelligence is being used to do things which part for humans to do because of data. these are diabetic neuropathy. it is diagnosed by
ophthalmologist. we can detect that 99% of the time. the best of the time. why are we so good at it? we see more eyes. we can train the computer. there is a lot of reason to think this kind of intelligence will allow things which are either repetitive or require deep pattern analysis will be much, much better. david: do you think the united states government is better at cyber terrorism than other governments are against us? eric: u.s. government has never acknowledged it plays an active role in cyberspace and is active offensively, although the people who might be our targets have certainly been claiming we have been doing it. the consensus of people that you got no one knew the details, which includes me, is america is very good at this, but other countries are as well. the one i worry the most about right now is actually russia. if you look at their actions, they have done a number of very
publicized invasions, attacks and alterations which can only be understood as cyber activity and they are not shy about it. they do not mind people knowing about it. this must be part of their strategy. ♪ david: the europeans seem to not like google as much as americans do. have you resolved those issues with europe? eric: the core issue is the european governance model is not set up to build these global companies. ♪
♪ david: a few years ago you gave up the position of ceo. you are ceo for how long? eric: a decade. david:ow you are thexecutive chairman of alphabet. in that role you have become a technology advisor to the president of the united states, secretary of defense and the well-known commentator and advisor on technology to many people. do you enjoy this role? eric: i do. it is important in life as you get older to not to the same thing your entire life. there are better people now doing the work i used to do and this is something i can uniquely do because of the background i have. it is always hard to know what to get off the stage and joined the next stage, but from my perspective this is the right time and a decade is a perfectly good amount of time.
david: you have been an advisor on technology matters to president obama. is he a person that understands technology? eric: he does now. when he started, i do not think he knew a lot about technology but he is educated himself a lot. he appointed a very strong of scientist advisors of which i am one, and he spent a lot of time listening to the clients and the impact of technology and he is also become very successful and popular in the new forms of social media. remember that today, the five most soluble companies are technology companies. it is not just an interesting curiosity that technology is americans are laid. -- heartland. it is not just an interesting -- five most successful companies or technology companies. david: these five companies are assume apple, google, facebook, microsoft and amazon. eric: that is correct. david: it seems when you pick of the paper they all want to be the business somebody else is
in. eric: that is called competition. david: right? everybody wants to have driverless cars, do you expect them all to be in everybody else's business? eric: what i love about this question is, this is how it is supposed to work. people are supposed to identify business opportunities and they are supposed to produce a better product. i believe our products are better than our competitors, but our competitors keep trying and i can assure you in areas we are not quite as strong in market share, we have a new idea, you -- we have a new approach, we want to solve a problem in a new way. in the tech industry you cannot do the exact same product as somebody else that is already there because why would people switch? the switching cost is too high. you have to come up with a new idea, new approach. for us, we have decided the new idea is the use of machine intelligence, that is ai to be , an assistant. everything we are doing will make you smarter because it anticipates and helps you and make suggestions.
larry says this is going from search to suggest. we want to go from you telling us what you are searching for to make suggestions for what you are interested in. david: you have been a visible spokesman and the person for google around the world. let's talk about europe for a moment. the europeans seem to not like google as much as maybe americans may be because it is american company. have you resolve those issues? eric: we have not been able to resolve those issues in europe. we have more than 10,000 employees in europe and love europeans. we hired their people. they are incredibly smart, incredibly capable. many of the products you use in america were developed partially or completely in europe. the core issue i think for the european governance model and with the universities are set up, venture capital is not yet set up right, not set up for these global companies. they have every piece, every tool that they need. they have the people, the
discipline, the educational system but they have not congealed it together. we have furthermore funded a number of innovation banks and also our own venture capitals. we need europe to be more competitive against the american companies. david: one of the effects of building a successful company is that you have made a fair a lot of money by any normal human standard, but it is hard to spend that amount of money in your lifetime. what have you decided to do with it? eric: i am most interested in climate change and science. science is what got us to this point, so my philanthropy has been focused on the underlying issues around environmental causes, philanthropy and oceanography. oceanography is interesting because there is almost no private philanthropy in it and yet there's a mass extension going on in the ocean where we are losing most of the current lifeforms. 70% of the world's humans are
dependent on fish for daily food. carbon.majority for all of the carbon we are putting into the ocean. so even small changes in how the ocean works could have debilitating impacts on society. david: what would you like to do in the next 10 years and what would you hopefully like to have as your legacy? eric: hopefully i do not need to answer the legacy question, but from my perspective what i'm doing now is the most interesting. i do not want to work in any government. i have seen government up close to know that i'm not a government person, but i would like to make sure that the governments around the world promote technology, promote innovation and make the world a better place. i am very concerned this is happening so quickly that governments, which are designed to move slowly will either miss out on opportunities or worse, pass laws that prevent things from happening. every once in a while we will have a near miss so i like working on that. i personally believe the machine learning and ai
technology is going to be transformative in far deeper ways, in good ways. david: you are a leader in the science and technology world. do you think leaders are born, or made or are they educated? eric: leadership is a little bit of both. you have to have some innate skills but it certainly can be learned. i also believe as leaders you need to do something very well. that sort of stereotype of a general manager is not how the world works today. now the managers are uniquely good at something and then they learn other things. i do not think it matters for you start but i think you need to be incredibly good at that one thing and then you brought in your skills. oaden your skills. discipline, hard work and loving what you do will get you very far. ♪
♪ emily: he is known for shunning convention, taking massive risks that could win or lose billions and investing in black swaps, companies with a complete chance of failure but if they succeed, the world will be changed forever. he grew up in new delhi, india. his parents agreed he could explore his boyhood curiosities with no limits as long as his grace to not suffer. he went on to study microsoft systems and then became a venture capitalist to help entrepreneurs take the same