If anyone is worried about Google’s lofty, expensive bets on the future — the self-driving cars, the Internet balloons, the robots and so on — it’s not Google’s top business exec.
Omid Kordestani, Google’s chief business officer, spoke with Kara Swisher at day two of the Code Conference on a range of hurdles facing the search giant. Among them are the pressure Google feels, particularly from Wall Street, that its multiple moonshot projects lack viable ways to pay off. Last quarter, Google poured $2.93 billion into its data architecture and projects in broadband, mobile computing and automated vehicles without proven business models.
Kordestani dismissed those concerns. He said he is involved with the discussions around the initiatives, often shaping some potential partnerships. He noted the recent example of Google tying up with drug-maker Novartis for its smart contact lens project. But those aren’t requisites for the executives signing off.
“You have got to build it first,” Kordestani said. “If the users come, then you’ll figure out how to monetize it.”
These projects represent the “spirit” of Google that brought him back to the company, Kordestani added. Last July, when Nikesh Arora, Google’s longtime chief business officer, departed for Softbank, Google CEO Larry Page turned to Kordestani, one of his most trusted and familiar deputies, as an interim fill. In October, Page handed the top business role to him permanently.
Kordestani said he left in 2009 to spend more time with his family and make more room for the next generation of executives. He stayed close to Google during his time away, however, meeting regularly with Page — “just spending friendly time with him,” Kordestani said.
Kordestani was Google’s first business hire, in 1999, and stayed at the front of the sales organization until 2009. He returned last year to a different business. While it remains an online advertising colossus, Google has started to face raising competition, most notably from Facebook. Search queries are now predominately done on mobile, where Google is not nearly as dominant as it is on desktop. The company’s attempt to marshal an e-commerce business to rival Amazon’s has yet to bear much fruit.
On stage, Kordestani confirmed Google’s next attempt: A mobile “buy” button. He also spoke briefly about some of Google’s recent — and coming — tweaks to its search products to stave off the problems from mobile.
Google does not break down its revenue by source, a frustration for some investors. Kordestani admitted that the ad dollars from mobile are “different,” but did not answer a question on the discrepancies from desktop. “In certain categories, it’s actually equal or even higher,” he claimed.
“I personally would like to give more visibility to our business,” he replied when an audience member asked about the revenue breakdown. Doing so, however, may risk hampering Google’s innovation, he added.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.