2013 Founders' Letter

Google 2013 Founders’ Letter: Risk Averse Education and Remote Classrooms

In his 2013 founders’ letter, Google’s co-founder and CEO Larry Page takes a look at the current state of the US school system and states that it isn’t capable of encouraging the next generation of “big thinkers” companies like Google want and need to hire.

The current system would not encourage students to take risks, making “incrementalism” the norm. According to Page, incremental changes eventually lead to irrelevance in the tech space. That’s why Google is taking “moon shots” with Google X and projects like the self driving car and Google Glass. The problem is that Google can’t find enough people who come up with or want to work on such projects due to the risk averse mentality taught in school.

From the letter

“It’s amazing what you can achieve with a small dedicated team when you start from first principles and aren’t encumbered by the established way of doing things. Yet I’ve learned over time that it’s surprisingly difficult to get teams to be super ambitious because most people haven’t been educated in this kind of moonshot thinking. They tend to assume that things are impossible, or get frightened of failure. It’s why we’ve put so much energy into hiring independent thinkers at Google, and setting big goals. Because if you hire the right people and have bold enough dreams, you’ll usually get there. And even if you fail, you’ll probably learn something important.”

Another effort of Google in education is Project Loon which aims to connect people in remote areas to the Internet through a fleet of balloons.

“Soon there will be a classroom in northeast Brazil we are working to put online for the first time, using Loon. And as the program expands, we hope to bring the power of connection to more and more people—creating opportunities that none of us have yet imagined.”

Page also reflects on Google Search, how far they have come and what lies ahead. Today Google processes over 100 billion searches per months and Google is constantly getting better with providing direct answers to questions which of course has its impact on how students do their research today. Instead of having to sift through various linked sources for the right answer, Google directly answer queries like “what is the deepest lake in the world”.

The search engine now offers voice search in 38 languages with Thai and Vietnamese being the latest additions. According to Page speaking is often the quickest way to get an answer, especially on a mobile device.

Further Reading

Picture “Larry Page” by Niall Kennedy, Some Rights Reserved

Kirsten Winkler is the founder and editor of EDUKWEST. She also writes about Social Media, Digital Society and Startups at KirstenWinkler.com.