“Thank goodness, I would,” said Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Alphabet (formerly Google), when asked about whether he would go back in time and make the same decision to join the “fledging startup”.
Schmidt was engaged in a fireside discussion moderated by Hyemin Lee, CEO and Founder, Finda, which took place at Google Campus Seoul.
“My own view in life is you should do the things that you find most interesting,” he said. Back then, when he met the two Founders of Google — Larry Page and Sergey Brin — it became clear to him that the duo was aggressive and smart.
The two 26-year-olds argued with Schmidt “at great lengths”, and even taught him a few lessons. He continued, “And I was humbled by that.”
“I remember thinking, I want to work with them somehow,” he added. “I never interviewed anywhere else.”
Schmidt also answered questions from the audience crowdsourced via an Internet service. “Could you compare the startup ecosystem of Silicon Valley and a more government-driven one like Korea?” asked a few people.
Schmidt answered, “The thing that distinguishes Silicon Valley is how big it is. And it’s just miles and miles and miles of startups and venture capitalists and … there’s nothing like the startup ecosystem of Silicon Valley anywhere in the world.
“To give you a number, roughly 70 per cent of the venture capital in the world is now going into Silicon Valley. So it’s very difficult to compete with that, at least, initially. I worry that governments are not risk-seeking enough, that it’s very important that the companies [are] able to succeed and fail, or they won’t take big enough risks to beat their competitors. I always encourage, if a government wants to help, create a private group and let them make mistakes, learn and so forth. It’s important that governments do the right thing, so they have to allow for failure, they have to encourage tax [benefits] for investments and those kinds of thing.”
Schmidt also gave his comments about diversity in the workforce. “We get better results from teams that are representative of every kind of person,” he said, “I want to be clear that that is women, people who are minorities, people who have different sexual orientations, different religions, different backgrounds — united by the goal of building a great product.”
Click here to watch the entire interview on YouTube (of course). Pro-tip? Fast forward to 17:30 if you want to avoid just watching people walk in and out of the auditorium.