Former Google CEO: “This is the first time as a species we have faced the same problem as a planet” – MarketWatch


Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has gone through a debilitating crisis like the Great Recession of 2008-2009, but nothing like COVID-19.

“Stronger companies recover faster than weaker ones,” said Schmidt, CEO of Google.

+ 0.09%

for 10 years until 2011 and executive chairman until 2017, said at a Zoom conference with about 200 business leaders, investors, celebrities and the press on Tuesday evening. (MarketWatch was one of the participants.) “To put it mildly, take the opportunity of the crisis to reconfigure and make sure that the decisions you make now reinforce you when it comes up – a year or maybe less. “

Schmidt, who is the Google technical advisor to parent Alphabet Inc. and teaches at Stanford University, spoke to an eclectic group around the world that included Oscar-winning actress Goldie Hawn, an executive at Square Inc.
+ 3.80%

and restaurateurs. The subject, “Where are we going from here: forecasts for the post-COVID-19 world”, was hosted by the analytical company Collective[i].

The economic and pandemic crisis highlights the need for a national broadband policy to reach rural areas, and a more uniform playing field for economically disadvantaged people who do not have access to laptops or Wi-Fi to enjoy from Google technology or Zoom Video Communications Inc.
+ 5.68%

, according to Schmidt.

“We need a plan, and we don’t have one,” he said. “We have the option of moving to something called TeleEverything … for health, education, manufacturing. And fix the accessibility of bandwidth for everyone. “

At the same time, big technology has evolved in moderation of content as more and more people express their views via social media and online outlets, he said. “There was this belief 10 years ago, it was OK to have an open dialogue,” said Schmidt. “Now some tech companies [he did not name any] rightly sue liars and manipulators of disinformation, especially around the coronavirus. Now we have a moral responsibility. “

“There are five or ten examples, which are excellent,” continued Schmidt, obviously referring to Google and Facebook Inc.
+ 0.52%

. “It’s a welcome maturation in the industry to watch out for dangerous and crazy people.”

Schmidt’s position on COVID-19 came hours after MarketWatch had long-standing discussions with Cisco Systems Inc.

CEO John Chambers, who estimates the pandemic will wreak havoc on the global economy for nine months to a year. However, he believes that some Fortune 500 startups and companies will emerge stronger from the rubble if they carry out digital transformation towards big data, artificial intelligence, 5G and advanced IT.

See also: The CEO who built Cisco in a power plant has a sobering diagnosis of coronavirus: at least nine months of economic difficulties

Schmidt shares the same vision and roughly the same chronology. And, like Chambers, he hesitates to compare COVID-19 to all of the above.

“This [situation] is not a comparison, “said Schmidt, who browsed Google during the Great Recession of 2008-2009. In 2008, for example, Google revised employee stock options to stabilize its workforce and retain talent. “It was the right decision at the time,” said Schmidt.

With the planet paralyzed in nearly 1.5 million cases and more than 85,000 deaths worldwide, government and business leaders face a challenge never encountered before, warned Schmidt.

“This is the first time as a species that we have faced the same problem as a planet,” said Schmidt near the end of the 90-minute forum. “About 11,000 years ago, when we were struggling to learn how to farm. We can either unite or separate. “