Obama-Google connection scares competitors

11 Nov Obama-Google connection scares competitors

Politico.com, November 10, 2008
Google CEO Eric Schmidt didn’t say anything as he flanked President-elect Barack Obama during his first post-election press conference. He didn’t have to. The image alone of Schmidt standing elbow-to-elbow with Obama’s top economic thinkers was enough to send s hivers up the spine of Google’s competitors. “This terrifies Microsoft,” said a Democratic lobbyist familiar with the industry. “There’s a reason why people are scared to death of Google.” Friday’s press conference Friday came just two days after Google threw in the towel on an attempted Internet advertising partnership with Yahoo, the older, but struggling Web company. Google said that the prospect of an antitrust lawsuit from the Justice Department was the key deal breaker. Yahoo, which needed the deal more than Google, had said it was willing to fight the government, but Google didn’t have the stomach for a protracted legal battle. So an open question for Google is whether the search-engine giant’s newfound closeness with the Democratic president-elect will give the company the muscle it needs to win disputes with the government over deals such as the Yahoo partnership. Google says that Schmidt was acting on his own, and his politics don’t reflect the company’s official stance. “Eric’s endorsement of Sen. Obama was a personal matter, and as a company Google was neutral in the campaign,” said Adam Kovacevich, Google’s senior manager of global communications and public affairs. “We look forward to working with the new administration and congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to keep the Internet open and to promote economic growth.”