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Former Google CEO Ignored Facebook Threat

June 1, 2011

During a question-and-answer session at the D: All Things conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Google CEO Eric Schmidt admits to not giving proper attention to the growing threat that the burgeoning Facebook posed for the hearts and minds of the growing denizens of the internet, reports the associated Press (AP).

Facebook was a small, but growing blip on the tech-world radar with only about 20 million members at the time. Today Facebook boasts numbers between 500 and 600 million members and shows no signs of slowing down.

If he had a another chance, former Schmidt would have pressed Google to focus more on mounting a challenge to Facebook while he was still running the company. “I screwed up,” Schmidt said late Tuesday.

Schmidt’s admission comes nearly two months after he ended his decade-long stint as CEO of Google and became the company’s executive chairman. He was replaced by Google co-founder Larry Page, who is now pushing the company to connect people with their friends and family, much like Facebook already does.

As the audience for Facebook increases, it is attracting more online advertising and stunting Google’s revenue. Perhaps even more troubling to Google, much of the information on Facebook’s website can’t be indexed by Google. This restriction threatens to make Google less useful as more people form social circles online which can benefits advertisers, The Telegraph reports.

Schmidt said the company has been working hard to solve this “identity” problem. “I think the industry as a whole would benefit from an alternative” to Facebook’s network, Schmidt said.

Google also announced a new service called “ËœGoogle Offers’, another networking service where users can receive discounts of 50 percent or more at local businesses. The service is based on the daily deals offered by Groupon, which Google unsuccessfully tried to buy last year.

Google’s offers initially will be available only in Portland, Oregon, before expanding to New York and the San Francisco Bay area later this year. The offers are part of a new mobile payment service Google unveiled last week.

Google, generated $29 billion in gross revenue last year and is the world’s premier search engine. However its core advertising business is under threat from the likes of Facebook and Groupon, while the emergence of a new generation of mobile devices has spurred a growing rivalry with Apple, Reuters reports.

Schmidt, a former Apple board member, admitted the relationship between Apple and Google had gotten “rough” as Google began to develop its Android smartphone operating system, though they remained partners in certain businesses.

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