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Senator Elizabeth Warren recently called for the breakup of major tech companies, and earlier this month lawmakers proposed a pair of bills that would regulate Google, Facebook, and others. Republican representative Greg Walden, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said of the companies: “If responsibility doesn’t flow, then regulation will."
But in a new interview, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt questioned the assertion that Americans are frustrated with the tech industry, saying the sense of such dissatisfaction is “a perception that the press has.”
“All the studies I've [seen] indicated that people really like our products,” Schmidt says. “We know that because they use them more and more and more.”
Poll results on the tech industry show mixed opinion. A Pew research survey last year, which polled 4,594 U.S. adults, found that just 28% of Americans think tech companies can be trusted to do the right thing most of the time or always. But the same poll found 74% of Americans think the impact of major technology companies on their own lives has been more good than bad.
A poll of 2,546 U.S. adults conducted last year by HarrisX, a research firm, found that 53% of Americans believe large technology companies should be regulated by the federal government the way big banks are.
Schmidt made the remarks to Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in a conversation that aired on Yahoo Finance in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.
Hired as CEO by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Schmidt grew Google from a startup to a multinational tech giant. Under his tenure, the company extended its offerings beyond search through the acquisition of YouTube and the development of the Android mobile operating system, among other initiatives. From 2011 to 2017, Schmidt served as the Executive Chairman at Google and its parent company Alphabet.
Schmidt remains a technical adviser to the board of Alphabet.
There are ‘clearly issues’
Schmidt acknowledged there are “clearly issues” faced by tech.
In discussing how to address them, Schmidt invoked late executive coach Bill Campbell, the subject of a book “Trillion Dollar Coach” released on Tuesday by Schmidt as well as his former Google colleagues Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle.
“It's the way [Bill Campbell] would have thought about it to say, here's a problem, here's a perception, here's a regulatory problem,” Schmidt says. “Let's figure out if we have the smartest people, let's get them organized, figure out our values, and let them figure out some solutions.”
Andy Serwer is editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance.