Omid Kordestani, Google’s chief business officer, has seen many phases of CEO Larry Page.
Kordestani joined Google as its “business founder” in 1999, a year after Page and Sergey Brin founded the company in their early 20s. He left in 2009, but came back last summer after the departure of Nikesh Arora to take up the head of business role.
On stage at Re/code’s Code Conference on Wednesday, host Kara Swisher asked Kordestani how Page had changed over the years.
“I think he’s still his wonderful, curious, idealistic self — focused on changing the world and having impact through technology,” Kordestani said. “But he became CEO. And through that process he dealt with a lot of the complexity in the operational aspects of the company. And I think what’s wonderful now is seeing him decide how he wants to spend his time.”
Now, Kordestani said, Page relies much more on him to run the business side and Sundar Pichai to oversee all of Google’s products. He’s still engaged as a CEO, but wants to spend his time on the evolution and innovation of the company.
“Having been CEO, he now sees how complex this whole equation is,” Kordestani said, adding that Page now focuses much more on empowering other leaders to run their own different organisations, instead of running everything himself. Page said as much in an internal memo last fall, when Pichai got promoted to product leader.
Swisher noted that she thought that Page had also gained a better sense of humour over the years.
Once, when she met with Page, she suggested that Google should buy The New York Times and let her run it.
Without missing a beat Page responded: “I buy the New York Times every day.”
Cofounder Sergey Brin can apparently pull off a one-liner too.
Kordestani says that once he and Brin were discussing an invitation to a knighting ceremony that the Queen of England had sent Google.
“You should be knighted one day,” Kordestani prodded the cofounder.
“I already have been,” Brin answered. “I’m ‘Sir Gey.'”