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Larry Page Gives First Comments on Alphabet, and Some on Google's China Plans

A benefit of not being Google CEO anymore: Not having to answer Google questions.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Is there any company in the world like Alphabet? Nope. Not according to Larry Page.

The Google co-founder, now the CEO of Google corporate parent Alphabet, was asked if there was a model for his tech conglomeration at the Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco on Monday evening. “Um, no,” he replied. “There’s parts of things we obviously respect. But in terms of doing the investment, at scale, that we’re trying to do — I wish I could look at someone else and say, ‘If only we did what they’re doing.’”

Page discussed the formation of Alphabet and its governing philosophy, his managerial style and some of his favorite moonshots in the wide-ranging interview, his first since the announcement of the new holding company.

He did not let out a wealth of new information. (He wouldn’t even divulge his college internship.*) Yet the conversation illuminates how Page thinks of his post-Google empire — as an entrepreneurial incubator for diverse, often long-term, tech bets that must have impact the world over. That includes China, where Page suggested Google may expand its presence.

Page was asked how Alphabet manages a portfolio of companies entering such diverse, seemingly unlimited industries. “I worry about that sometimes,” he admitted. “Trying to make a company for entrepreneurs is something we’re striving for.”

Among the Alphabet moonshots Page noted was its self-driving car business — he said the competition it has spawned (without naming competitors) is both “good and bad.” Other initiatives noted were the Project Loon Internet access program, part of Google X, and the health care companies. Page recently had his genomes sequenced, only to discover regulatory restrictions on that health data. This frustrates him. “We’ve gotten so hung up on privacy,” Page said, “we’ve actually, I think, made it illegal for a university researcher to anonymously contact you as part of your being in a genomic study.”

On the Alphabet comparison to Berkshire Hathaway, Page claimed it is not an exact fit. But he said he consults with that conglomerate’s honcho Warren Buffett and admires his work on energy and infrastructure.

The implementation of the Alphabet structure has taken up most of his time since it was announced in August, Page noted. Something that hasn’t taken up his time: Google’s foray into China. “There’s a lot of business that we still do with China, and we’d like to do more,” he said, echoing recent comments from fellow co-founder Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt, who was in China on Monday. But Page stopped at that.

“Now, I’ve also delegated this question to Sundar,” he said, mentioning Sundar Pichai, his chosen successor as Google CEO. “I don’t have to answer this question.”

You can watch the entire interview here at Fortune.

* It was, per the website Page invented, Advanced Management Systems in Washington, D.C.

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