You recently testified before Congress in an antitrust hearing about Google. What are your reflections on the experience? Were the leaders there asking the right questions?
So we get hauled in front of the Congress for developing a product that’s free, that serves a billion people. Okay? I mean, I don’t know how to say it any clearer. I mean, it’s fine. It’s their job. But it’s not like we raised prices. We could lower prices from free to…lower than free? You see what I’m saying?
Where’s the disconnect between Washington and Google, or Silicon Valley more broadly?
Washington—having spent a lot of time there, I grew up there and have spent a lot of time there recently—is largely defined by detailed analytical views and policy choices that are not very good. You know, each policy choice has a winner and a loser, right? Somebody’s ox is getting gored. They’re complex arguments: They’re economic and political and social, and everyone has an opinion on those. Here, the arguments are, how do we make something that affects a million people? How do we change the economics of an industry?
And one of the consequences of regulation is regulation prohibits real innovation, because the regulation essentially defines a path to follow—which by definition has a bias to the current outcome, because it’s a path for the current outcome.
So what’s the solution?
I’ll give you a formula. This is an Andy Grove formula. So I’m sitting at this dinner in 1995—Andy Grove was the CEO of Intel—and he gives this speech, and he says, “This is easy to understand. High tech runs three-times faster than normal businesses. And the government runs three-times slower than normal businesses. So we have a nine-times gap.” And I said, “Works for me.” But all of my experiences are consistent with Andy Grove’s observation.
And so what you want to do is you want to make sure that the government does not get in the way and slow things down. We’ve now all developed an ability to lobby about this stuff. We want the government [to understand] if you want to manage something, manage the outcome you want. Don’t specify the technology. Right? In other words, regulate this thing but don’t tell us how to make it technologically. Because if you do, you’ve locked in an incumbent, a specific technological view, et cetera.
So as a leader at Google, how do go about getting the government to think closer to the way you do? It’s been written that Google has more lobbyists in Washington now, donates more money…