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Google’s End of an Era

December 5, 2019, 10:01 AM UTC

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Good morning.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin are stepping down from running Alphabet, leaving the company to Sundar Pichai. This likely signals the end of an era, when Google tried to solve a vast array of human problems under Alphabet’s broad umbrella—but pretty much failed to turn any of them into a profitable business. The notion then was that Google was not just an awesome search and advertising business, but rather a whole new way of doing business. (See Jeff Jarvis’ book, What Would Google Do?) With the founders’ departure, it once again becomes just an awesome search and advertising business.

I had the rare opportunity to interview Larry Page at the very beginning of the Alphabet age, at the Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco in 2015. When people ask me to name my favorite CEO interview, I often cite this one—mainly because Page’s answers were so remarkably unrehearsed.

My favorite part of the conversation was this:

Me: Is there any company out there you look at and say, “That’s kind of what we want to be”?

Page: Mmmmm…No.

You can watch the full interview here. It is one of a kind.

And if you have extra viewing time, Fortune editors have assembled a collection of their most memorable interviews from the last decade. You can view them here.

News below.

Alan Murray
@alansmurray
alan.murray@fortune.com

TOP NEWS

Legal Shield

U.S. tech giants fought hard to include immunity language in the new trade pact with Mexico and Canada, but Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing for the protections to be removed. This is apparently because including them in a trade pact may make it more difficult to scrap current federal online protections—which protect online platforms from liability over the actions of their users—back home. Wall Street Journal

Amazon Antitrust

Federal antitrust enforcers are reportedly probing Amazon's cloud business as well as its retail operations. The broadening of the investigation to include Amazon Web Services may not result in enforcement actions, but it does indicate an interest in all sides of Amazon's business. Fortune

French Strikes

It's strike time in France, as unions—with a lot of public support—flex their muscles in protest against President Emmanuel Macron's pension reforms. The national rail system is almost entirely shut down, airport staff are walking out… even the police, lawyers and hospital staff are striking. The pension reforms effectively penalize those who retire at the official retirement age of 62, rather than later. BBC

Moncler Shares

Moncler's share price soared by over 10% this morning, after a report that said luxury brand group Kering was interested in buying the luxury puffer coat firm. Shares in Kering, which owns brands such as Gucci and Balenciaga, also rose almost 2% at one point. Reuters

AROUND THE WATER COOLER

SAA Rescue

South African Airways has received a $273 million lifeline from banks and the country's government as part of a business rescue process. The flag carrier has, like some other state-owned enterprises, been teetering on the edge of collapse—a recent strike saw two major travel insurers stop coverage of SAA tickets. Now the airline is finally set for restructuring. Fin24

Musk Worth

Elon Musk doesn't know his own worth. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO said at his defamation trial that it might be around $20 billion, mostly in shares, but he's not really sure. Musk also admitted that he had received "concerned notes from [Tesla] shareholders" over the impact of the furor around his tweets referring to British cave diver Vernon Unsworth as "pedo guy." CNBC

Robinhood Red Flags

Is the stock-buying app Robinhood to be lumped in with overvalued, actually-low-margin startups such as WeWork and Uber? Red flags include a series of missteps such as Robinhood's bungled 3%-interest savings product, strong competition from other brokerages that are also promising free stock trades, and the lack of clarity around how the firm plans to turn a profit. Fortune

Abenomics Return

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has launched the country's first fiscal stimulus in three years. Japan's new 15-month budget comes to $121 billion and is intended to upgrade infrastructure, invest in new technologies and repair typhoon damage. Abe: "The three pillars of this stimulus package are recovery, reconstruction and security from natural disasters; support to overcome the risk of an economic slowdown; and investment for a future beyond the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics." Financial Times

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.