In meetings, the co-founders have been known to pace the room, climb on furniture, play with Lego, or simply sit silently. During his own first tenure as CEO, the retiring Page reportedly told his PR staff that he would only give them eight hours of his time for appearances and speaking engagements for an entire year. He's also not known for his practicality; once, when told that Microsoft employed about 25,000 engineers, he announced, "We should have a million."
Such eccentricities might be endearing in the founder of a startup, but in the CEO of a multi-billion-dollar public company they inspire little confidence. If ever there was a time that Google needed grown-up leadership, it is now.
Google director of research Peter Norvig describes the search giant's culture as "a cross between a startup and grad school," where employees get the perks of both. But in reality Google is neither. It is a large and growing corporation, with obligations to its shareholders, its customers, and its staff. Among those obligations are to use its resources wisely, to compete vigorously, and to protect the interests of its customers, including their privacy. But perhaps above all else, it must also learn to assess itself honestly and recognize that its days as an arcadia for hacker savants may be coming to an end. It's time for Google to graduate.