Google CEO: Internet Helped Obama

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This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," September 2, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Have you ever wondered, if there were no Google, would there be a Barack Obama? The Web giant's CEO just saying that the Internet helped catapult — or, shall we say, just vault Barack Obama to the Democratic nomination. Certainly a great deal, did it not?

Well, the Obama campaign's networking and e-mailing and texting — they had nothing to do with that texting of the V.P. thing, by the way — millions of its supporters are Googling.

And Google CEO Eric Schmidt joins me right now, the same day his company, by the way, invades Microsoft's browser turf with a product of its own to take on Internet Explorer.

Eric, very good to have you.

ERIC SCHMIDT, CEO, GOOGLE: Great to have you.

Video: Watch Neil's interview with Google's CEO Eric Schmidt


You know the idea, that your company made Barack Obama.

SCHMIDT: Well, I think that each of these candidates makes themselves.

What is interesting about the Obama campaign is, if you think about two — two years ago, Mrs. Clinton was the incumbent, and a relatively poorly known challenger used the Internet to get his message out. That opportunity is before us for every politician and for the next election and the next election.

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And I think politicians, going forward, are all going to have very early and very sophisticated Internet campaigns. By the way, the McCain campaign, when they — remember when they hit that revenue problem and they were kind of down on money? They kept their spending on the Internet, showing some foresightedness, I thought.

CAVUTO: All right. But I was told that the Obama folks and Barack Obama himself actively sought you out.

SCHMIDT: Well, all of the candidates have come to visit Google, which is, I think, a nice testament how they're trying...


CAVUTO: No, no, but he was the earliest.

SCHMIDT: But all of — but all of them called us. I don't know that he or any of the other ones were earliest.

CAVUTO: All right. And his calls were returned?


SCHMIDT: We return them all.

CAVUTO: Really?

SCHMIDT: We really do.

CAVUTO: Is there a preference at Google?

SCHMIDT: Google is largely in a — in California, which is largely a liberal state, so there is probably a — a sort of voter choice. But the company itself, of course, is completely apolitical. And we're really technologists, and we believe in the Internet. So, we're voting for the Internet, basically.

CAVUTO: All right. But it is a community that — the young guys who founded your company and recruited you are thought to be big Obama fans. Am I right?

SCHMIDT: Most people have not expressed a preference. But I think most — if I were to describe the employee base...

CAVUTO: Right.

SCHMIDT: ... I would say, most of the employee base are young, relatively technology-focused, and not very political.

CAVUTO: What about you?

SCHMIDT: Personally? I think of the technology, and I...



CAVUTO: Good answer.

Let me ask you about technology and in the race. And I know you are talking on Microsoft now and Internet Explorer and all this, beyond what you have done in the Web search area, where you dominate the world here — that this is a success that you want — want to build on, because Democrats typically have a more friendly view of technology than Republicans — I don't know if that is true or not, but that is the view — and there would be a more favorable environment for a company like yours with a Democrat in the White House.

SCHMIDT: But I'm not sure I agree with any of that.

I mean, if you go back to the 1980s, the Republicans won much of the South in a very historic campaign using very clever radio technologies, way back when, 25 years ago. So, there is no particular reason to think that technology favors one political party or the other. It's available to them for their use.

Both of the leading campaigns have used YouTube, for example, very, very — in very, very sophisticated ways to get their message out, because people are online. And, by the way, it is not just young people. That's another — that's another sort of prejudice everybody has. They think, it is all just young people.

It's lots of people. The demographic is everybody. They're on YouTube. They're using the Internet. Mrs. Palin was — was announced as a candidate, and many people did not know who she was. What do they do? They use Google to find out more about her.

CAVUTO: That's right. That's right.

SCHMIDT: And some of them like her. Some of them don't. But they use Google to get that information.

CAVUTO: But do you believe that Google — this is apolitical — has become so big and so ubiquitous, that you are going to have to deal with what Microsoft dealt with, at its gigantic height?

SCHMIDT: Well...

CAVUTO: ... and that is a government just jumping ugly?

SCHMIDT: Well, we have certainly — we have certainly seen a lot more sort of inspection by governments, and not just in the U.S., but everywhere.

If you think about it, information is really powerful, so it is pretty important to know what Google is doing. And they do watch us, what we're doing.

But we live in a country of free speech. We live in a country with important constitutional values. And I think that Google is — represents that sort of sense of expression that works so well for America.

CAVUTO: But I think what they worry about is — or concern themselves with is, you are so big, your stock is so rich, and your currency and the cash you generate each minute of every hour of every day is such that you have enormous influence. And you're sort of like this giant beast that could wield force. And people are panicked by you.

SCHMIDT: But — well, if — if they are so panicked, I can reassure them by saying we are very careful to focus on what end users want.

And with respect to big companies, like Microsoft's previous mistakes that they got in trouble for, we have said we are not going to make those mistakes. Maybe we will make different mistakes, but we're not going to make those.

CAVUTO: But how are you going to avoid them?

SCHMIDT: Well, let me give you — let me give you an example.

If you don't like our product, we promise that we will let you leave. We will let you take your data with you. We won't trap your data. So, we're working very hard to make sure that people see Google as a choice, and a positive choice, and an innovative choice. That is what Google is really about.

CAVUTO: But with your success — I mean, you are a billionaire now. I mean, all the key players are very, very rich.

One of the things I remember Bill Gates telling me years ago, with the success of Microsoft, is keeping the fire in the belly, when they have more than enough food for the belly, in other words, that they're so rich and so secure, that the drive just is not there.

SCHMIDT: Well, there is not evidence of that so far.

And I think it's because the people who came to the company came to change the world, not make a lot of money. And changing the world is much more powerful than anything else. And there is a feeling that the power of information — by the way, especially outside the United States, in countries which don't have open networks of information, and newspapers, and television shows, and people like yourself, literally, information is very controlled — we can break that monopoly that often the government will have.

So, I think, from my perspective, taking those American values that we take — that we carry so much, the freedom, and so forth and so on, and making them global is not a bad use of our time.

CAVUTO: All right.

By going after Internet Explorer, are you effectively saying, the giant of the past, we want to put a nail in their coffin?

SCHMIDT: Well, you know, browsers matter. There was a whole series of lawsuits and so forth 10 years about it.

And we saw an opportunity to build a browser, announced today, called Chrome. It is really a new platform for applications. Existing applications, when they run inside of a browser, don't work as well as they will on Chrome. So, that's the innovation.

Sure, it competes with — with Microsoft's product, because they have so much of a market — of the market. But their share is declining, as new innovators, like Chrome, come along the way. So, we think it's going to do well. Now, it's just announced today. We will see.

CAVUTO: All right.

John McCain, Barack Obama, you could live with either of them?

SCHMIDT: Both have visited Google. Both have very good technology plans.

CAVUTO: Any final preference on Eric Schmidt's part?

SCHMIDT: No. That's fine.

CAVUTO: If you were on a boat, and they were both with you, one fell over, who would you rescue?


SCHMIDT: I would rescue...


SCHMIDT: I would rescue both.

CAVUTO: Oh, man. What a great answer.


CAVUTO: All right.

Eric Schmidt, getting-it-done guy behind Google, all right.


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