Google cofounder Larry Page has visibly faded from public life.
While other big tech company founders like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey have increasingly had to step into the spotlight (both have appeared before Senate hearings to justify their companies’ workings), Page is reportedly withdrawing ever more from public life to spend more time on his private Caribbean island, Bloomberg reports.
Page cofounded Google with Sergey Brin in 1998. Both are currently senior executives at Google’s parent company Alphabet, where Page still holds company all-hands meetings, according to Bloomberg.
Bloomberg notes that in the 1990s Page was diagnosed with vocal-cord paralysis. He opened up about the condition in 2013. He said it made his voice softer and made long monologues more difficult. The 45-year-old Google cofounder has not spoken in public since a TED talk in 2014, despite Google recently coming under attack from President Trump for alleged left-wing bias and potential antitrust violations.
The absence of Google leadership was most noticeable at the Senate Intelligence Committee last week, where Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg gave evidence. An empty chair was left for Google after both Page and Google CEO Sundar Pichai declined to attend.
Senator Mark Warner tore into Google’s leadership for failing to turn up. “Given its size and influence, I would have thought the leadership at Google would want to demonstrate how seriously it takes these challenges and to lead this important public discussion,” he said.
Bloomberg spoke to early Google investor-turned-critic Roger McNamee about Page being a no-show. “Google has been incredibly lucky to date that Facebook’s failures have been so much more in focus, but they’re every bit as bad,” he told Bloomberg. “By not showing up, it did Facebook a huge favor. If you’re a shareholder, you should be furious. They guaranteed the intensity will go way up.”
Being absent from public life doesn’t mean Page has withdrawn from the world of tech entirely. According to Bloomberg, Page has stopped taking an interest in corporate dealings at Google and focuses exclusively on futuristic projects that capture his interest. For example, Page has made major investments in flying car companies like Kitty Hawk and BlackFly.
Page has always guarded his privacy, but a withdrawal from public life may draw the ire of some, now that Google too is coming under the microscope along with social media companies.