MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - MAY 10: Google founder Larry Page talks with members of the media at Google Press Day 2006 May 10, 2006 in Mountain View, California. (Photo By Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The verdict is in. Wall Street hates Larry Page.
After a quarterly report that mentioned a 54 percent jump in operating costs, investors and analysts alike seemed to want Google's new chief executive to address concerns and put them at ease. Instead, some feel they were given a "token appearance," Reuters reported. (Add that each Google employee costs $522,000 a year, and you can see why shareholders would get a little worried when there might be an employee "binge.")
Page appeared briefly on the earnings call, expressed optimism about the direction of the company then left without answering any questions. His entire part of the call was less than 400 words. Now it seems that his quick-hit, quick-split move seems to have cost him and Google.
"We would have wanted Larry to stick around for Q&A," Citi analyst Mark Mahaney wrote in a note to investors on Friday. Mahaney downgraded Google stock and called Page's "token appearance" a low point for the tech giant.
What's interesting is that much of the blame about the drop in stock seems to rest squarely on Page's shoulders. TechCrunch said Page's "unconvincing monotone" hurt the company, while New York magazine advocated a "personality transplant." Steve Tobak at BNET insulted Page's brief plans saying, "That's no strategy." The Wall Street Journal made fun of his extensive use of "excited," including that he used it six times. AdWeek continued the pummeling with "this latest act has investors feeling snubbed and fearing for Google’s future."
While I suppose someone needs a scapegoat to explain why they need to downgrade Google stock, the truth can be as easy as analysts don't like Page. He's actually been known to be immensely unlikeable, routinely standoffish and seemingly socially retarded, spending meetings engrossed in his Android phone without once looking up. What's really to like?
As I said before, it doesn't really matter in the long run if Page can cultivate innovation. The push and pull of Wall Street shouldn't be the force behind Google's decisions, especially once you realize that those forces are sometimes based on a personality conflict.