News: Now that the FTC approved Google’s acquisition of YouTube, it will be interesting to see how much power Google CEO Eric Schmidt wields on behalf of YouTube, behind the scenes. In a quote by the Wall Street Journal this week, the 29-year-old CEO and co-founder of YouTube Chad Hurley seemed perplexed by the negotiations with the movie and music industries: “It’s such a mess because the [entertainment companies] have all of these valuable assets that are just locked up with so many people who need to sign off on them. I don’t know what it requires, if the government needs to be involved,” Mr. Hurley laughs. “I don’t know.”
Friday, however, Google issued the following statement: “The Internet offers real opportunities for media companies to reach a wider, global audience and to interact more directly with users. Google is always talking to potential partners about how to make the most of the opportunities provided by the net.”
Analysis: Although YouTube will retain its corporate identity and co-founder Chad Hurley will retain his position as YouTube’s CEO, the statement by Google strongly suggests that Eric Schmidt is wielding his influence in negotiations with the movie and music industries. This is no knock on Mr. Hurley, who appears to have done a very respectable job so far, especially in securing the Google deal. But Eric Schmidt is a Silicon valley veteran, with “street cred” that is beyond doubt: an engineering PhD, a founder of Sun Microsystems, and former CEO of Novell. Schmidt was brought into Google when the venture capitalists who had invested in Google were clamoring for a more experienced businessman to help co-founder twenty-somethings Sergei Brin and Larry Page run Google. In other words, the 51-year-old Schmidt helps to provide the “adult supervision” thought by investors to be necessary for a young, fast growing company. And so far he has.
Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, on the YouTube acquisition