Google CEO Larry Page says he suffers from vocal cord paralysis


In January, Google said its co-founder Larry Page would assume the role of chief executive. (Chip East/REUTERS)

Google chief executive Larry Page disclosed Tuesday that he suffers from voice paralysis, answering several months of questions as to why Google’s top executive was shying away from public speaking engagements.

Page made the announcement on his Google+ page, saying that he has been fully able to fulfill his duties “at home and at work” with a softer voice but that it’s more “tedious” for him to speak publicly.

Page’s voice condition has been the subject of speculation since last year’s Google I/O developers conference, when the company said that Page would not be speaking at the event or on the company’s next earnings call.

That raised questions about whether Google should disclose more about its executives' health conditions, particularly after the criticism that Apple faced while its late co-founder and chief executive Steve Jobs was quietly battling pancreatic cancer. As Washington Post columnist Jena McGregor noted at the time, while Page’s lost voice didn’t appear to be as life-threatening a condition as Jobs’s cancer, Google’s reticence on the topic made some investors nervous.

Page’s disclosure about his condition did not seem to concern investors on Tuesday; Google shares dipped slightly but remained above their opening price of $877. As of 2:30 p.m., stocks were trading around $884 per share.

Page said that problems with his voice stemmed from a bad cold he caught “about 14 years ago” that eventually paralyzed his left vocal cord. Page said that his vocal problems resurfaced last summer — ahead of last year’s developers conference — and that his second vocal cord now also had limited movement.

He said it’s not clear whether the vocal paralysis may be linked to a thyroid condition he has called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which he said was benign and “causes me no problems.” He was diagnosed with that condition in 2003.

In his posted announcement Page also said that he has funded a research program through the Vocal Health Institute.

He did not say whether he’ll speak at this year’s Google developers conference, which kicks off Wednesday.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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