How Will Google's Page Fit Into CEO Post?

Google is about to have a new leader — a guy who is going back to his old job. Ten years ago, Eric Schmidt was brought in to run the company for its 20-something co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Now, Page is taking back the CEO position. Many wonder how the notoriously shy Page will fit into the much more high profile position of running the world's largest Internet company.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

And it's time now for All Tech Considered.

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NORRIS: Google is getting a new leader, or more accurately, an old one. Larry Page is returning to his job as CEO. Ten years ago, Eric Schmidt was brought in to run Google by its 20-something co-founders, including Page. Now, Schmidt is stepping aside.

As NPR's Laura Sydell reports, Larry Page is notoriously shy, and many wonder how he will fare as head of the world's largest Internet company.

LAURA SYDELL: Larry Page has been obsessed with technology since he was a child. As an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, he majored in engineering and for fun built an inkjet printer out of Legos.

Ken Auletta, the author of "Googled: The End of the World As We Know It," says the question is, can he run the company?

Mr. KEN AULETTA (Author, "Googled: The End of the World As We Know It"): He's not a particularly good speaker. He is not a particularly sociable guy. He hates people micromanaging his schedule. He doesn't like to be confined. Well, a CEO is confined.

SYDELL: Page isn't known as the kind of guy who's good at schmoozing with other executives, also part of being a CEO. Auletta says the first time Page met with media mogul Barry Diller, Page was looking down and typing on his PDA while Diller tried to talk to him.

Mr. AULETTA: And he says, Larry, I'm trying to talk. Can you just converse with me? He says, it's OK, Barry, I can do both. I can look at this device and talk to you. He says, no, no, Larry, choose. And, Larry, without looking up, says, I choose this.

SYDELL: But Page has also been watching the more experienced Eric Schmidt run the company for 10 years. Page also read a book as a young man about one of his heroes that brought home how important it is to be good at business. The inventor, Nikola Tesla, along with Thomas Edison, was pivotal to the development of electricity.

Mr. AULETTA: And he wound up dying destitute because unlike Thomas Edison, he wasn't a good businessman.

SYDELL: Page also likes to solve problems, and he'll bring that to pushing Google forward, says David Vise, author of "The Google Story." For example, he grew up outside of Detroit and was also bothered by traffic jams and accidents.

Mr. DAVID VISE (Author, "The Google Story"): And he actually has thought about such things as automated cars that drive themselves and move at a kind of optimal speed without ever causing accidents or ever causing slow downs.

SYDELL: Google recently announced that it's working on a car that drives itself. In the last two years, Page has watched his company start to look like the old guard in Silicon Valley, as Facebook has taken on the mantle of the innovative upstart. Vise thinks that Page is really going to push to reclaim that mantle.

Mr. VISE: And that's really the key for a company like this - to stay out in front, to stay ahead and to continually surprise and delight users.

SYDELL: Vise says Page will bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the helm. Among his favorite phrases is that it's important to have a healthy disregard for the impossible.

Laura Sydell, NPR News, San Francisco.

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