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'We think online videos will be big'

As the fourth big man in Internet search giant Google Inc after founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and CEO Eric Schmidt, Nikesh Arora, a graduate of the Varanasi-based BHUIT, is peering into the future of the revolutionary medium. Narayanan Madhavan, Ruchi Hajela and Vijay Jung Thapa had a brief chat with him.

business Updated: Nov 01, 2009 19:09 IST

As the fourth big man in Internet search giant Google Inc after founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and CEO Eric Schmidt, Nikesh Arora, a graduate of the Varanasi-based BHUIT, is peering into the future of the revolutionary medium. Arora, who is president, global sales and business development at Google, was in Delhi to attend the HT Leadership Summit. He spoke to Narayanan Madhavan, Ruchi Hajela and Vijay Jung Thapa about the changing face of the hot business.

On his journey from India to Google in the US

I don't know if it's big or not, I grew up in India and went to school here. I did my electrical engineering and went to the US to attend a business school. I ended up working in many different places in many different countries, doing different things. I worked in finance, managed money; worked in marketing and a technology company. I haven't planned anything, which probably helps. I always followed my gut, decided every time that I wasn't having enough fun and I have got to do something different.

On how he got into Google

I was done with my last stint at T-Mobile in Germany and heard from a friend about Google. I went to meet the founders at the British Museum. That’s where they had time. They asked me to join them in California and meet other members of the team. It has been five years since.

On Google spreading into too many things without revenue prospects

Our founders want to organise the world’s information. Google started as a search company and existed for three years without a revenue model. It’s fascinating and there are lessons to learn here. Even in newspapers in television, there were no advertisers during the initial years. People forget the lessons of history.

On the future of search

Ten years ago people were crawling the Web once a day. One year ago they were looking for info every hour. Now, users want information real time. It’s a logical evolution; you go seeking information from a day to an hour to a second. The takeaway is that you should be able to find information as it happens. In whichever form user wants information, be it text or video, he should be able to find it.

On competition with the likes of Microsoft

Google as a company worries about users and about building the best products. If there are other people in that same space doing the same thing it is wonderful, there is little more stimulation and excitement. At Google, we never build products worrying about what others are doing.

On the upcoming Chrome Operating System to compete with Microsoft Windows

The OS becomes a powerful way to speed up access. Why should one have to depend on the hardware for fast processing? Users are beginning to live on the cloud (web). In the first time of history of technology, a product has been designed for the user. Logically, we will have to make sure people can use it. Mybe make available some offline functionality.

On the next big thing from Google

We think online videos will be big. A billion users upload videos on You Tube every minute. Every technological revolution is followed by user adoption. There is an inflection point after which a technology becomes big and eventually monetisation follows. About 1.8 billion people in the world are connected to the Internet. We haven’t seen online advertising yet on YouTube. Video advertising is a $200 billion market. Television audience is gradually moving away to the Web and the $200 billion is going to move where the audience is.

On acquisitions

We don’t go out there seeking a company for acquisition. We try to solve technological problems. These problems will be either solved by Google or by someone else in a good way. The Internet is actually an ecosystem where each player is doing its part and Google is not the only company. There are many others out there. The way to drive this ecosystem forward is to find points of collaboration.

On Google being a threat to traditional media houses

We are not in the content business. We are in the business of helping people find information. We are creating as much information every week as we did in the whole of 2003. One of the great risks if we don’t do what we do is that you will create information but people won’t be able to find it. There is definitely value for content but we are not in the business of judging that value. We use algorithms to find out what content is more popular with people.

If tomorrow Google ceases to exist, people would still be blogging, Facebooking and putting videos online. There is a bit of a transformation going on in the content business. The new distribution channel has created a disruption in the supply and chain of content distribution. There is a value for content and people pay for it. It is for users to decide whether to pay for content or choose free stuff. Either way, it is not the problem of the platform that helps you find it (content). There will be probably be a process of natural selection. Internet has also become a platform for discovering talent.

On evolving ad formats

Clearly, if you look at the spectrum, on the one hand is a mass ad for all and on the other end is that I know who is logging in when and from where. To distribute individual ads to these billion users is still easy but to create ads to meet needs of each of these billion users is a challenge of mammoth proportion. I guess it is easier to be on the first end of the spectrum.