TEXT OF INTERVIEW
KAI RYSSDAL: At the close Friday there were five stocks listed on American exchanges trading above $600 a share. Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway and the Washington Post Company are the two you’re probably most familiar with.
As of the open this morning, it’s six stocks on the list: Google has joined the club. But why? That’s the question for Brian Cooley at CNet. Brian, good to talk to you.
BRIAN COOLEY: Thanks, Kai.
RYSSDAL: So this is one of those tricky questions with which to start an interview, since the stock price is whatever the market says the stock price is… But what has Google done to deserve $600 a share?
COOLEY: Well, you know, what they did first of all is do search really well. Even though they have like 99 other things they do, from maps to mail to documents online to a rash of others, search is the core business, they do it really well and they revolutionized it. And secondly, once they did that and started getting a great mass of audience, they sold against it better.
The Google AdWords program has been really well-executed, in a way that no one else can catch up with so far — not Yahoo!, not Microsoft, certainly not the search engines Google vanquished into memory, like AltaVista and others. So they have the one-two punch — getting us to love their search, and they selling hard against it.
RYSSDAL: When the company reports third-quarter earnings next week, are we going to see $700 a share based on incredible revenues and profits?
COOLEY: You know, there’s nothing in their revenue picture that I know of to cast a dark cloud. This company is like Apple. Apple is the tastemaker for, frankly, entertainment hardware — the iPod and the Mac are really, that’s what their main core focus is. And there’s also a layer of luxury goods there. Google, in the same way, has this idea of finding what I want, and then interacting with it — that’s really their whole base. Right now, they are the tastemaker for the sector they occupy.
RYSSDAL: Let’s get to the downside, though, and elaborate on that for me for a minute — what’s it going to be that’s going to make this company stumble?
COOLEY: What Google has to focus on next is connecting the dots on other platforms. That’s one of the keys. In the car, on the cell phone or the smart phone, in front of the television — I don’t use Google much in those places. That field is still open for someone to come in and be the killer app of that space.
But also, today when you go to get your Google results, there’s a good and a bad thing that happens all at once: You type in your term, you hit “enter” and it comes back and says “674,320 results.” And you go “Great! A plethora of stuff!” That’s also the problem, and I know they know this at Google — that that is a failed algorithm.
Anything that returns 674,000 results on something I’m looking for is broken. They have to fix that. Someone’s going to fix it — someone’s going to get search so elegant and so focused that I’ll get eight results, and I’ll love every one of them. That’s what I really want, and so that’s what Google needs to be really versed at. Otherwise, they would very quickly be relegated to second-class status if someone else beats them to it.
RYSSDAL: Brian Cooley, an editor-at-large at CNet… Thank you, Brian.
COOLEY: Thanks, Kai.
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