Google shares fell to a six-month low on Friday — and Google's market value plummeted by some $15 billion — after the internet behemoth reported lower-than-expected profits for the first quarter of 2011. Faced with competition from the likes of Facebook and Apple, some analysts worry about the direction Google may be taking under its new CEO, co-founder Larry Page. He didn't help matters by essentially blowing off analysts in a follow-up conference call, speaking a mere 389 words. Is the Page regime already in trouble?
Yes, this is a "huge black eye" for Google: Wall Street is concerned about Page's "lack of discipline" leading to increased spending at Google, says Eric Jackson at Forbes. Analysts won't put it so explicitly, but they're thinking: “A 38-year old’s now in charge and we're concerned with him running up wacky expenses like driverless cars and a new Google space program.” Wall Street is worried that "the kids are back in charge at Google and they’ll run it any damn well way they want."
"What was Larry Page thinking on yesterday's earnings call?"
No, Page is doing the right thing: The CEO may have "offended Wall Street," but he's doing exactly what he should by focusing on Google's users and products, says Henry Blodget at Business Insider. Wall Street only focuses on short-term results, but that myopic view is "nearly irrelevant" to a company's long-term value. Page needs to articulate a big picture vision for the company and then make the bold bets necessary to get there. If he does that, investors should applaud.
"Google's Larry Page does exactly the right thing: Says 'Whatever' To Wall Street"
Either way, Google is making a "sudden and aggressive turn": Under its previous CEO, Eric Schmidt, investors were confident that they were a priority, says Scott Moritz at The Street. But Page is an engineer and "product champion," so "the shareholder may have to take a back seat" while the 13-year-old company plans "a bold spending attack on Facebook and an urgent expansion into social networking."
"Google aims war chest at Facebook"