* Page reassures staff, "nothing seriously wrong"
* Governance experts say Street may need more details later
* CEO's medical condition still not known
By Alexei Oreskovic
SAN FRANCISCO, June 22 Google Inc CEO
Larry Page, who plans to skip several high-profile events in
coming weeks after losing his voice, told employees there was
"nothing seriously wrong with me," according to a source who had
seen an internal staff memo.
Page sat out his company's annual shareholders' meeting on
Thursday. The 39-year-old Google co-founder is resting his voice
because of an unspecified condition, and he will miss Google's
annual developer conference next week as well as its quarterly
results announcement next month, executives said on Thursday
Page continues to run Google's business, Executive Chairman
Eric Schmidt told attendees at the shareholder meeting on
Thursday. But Page's prolonged absence from the public spotlight
raises questions about his condition, and the company's
obligation to highlight issues of concern to shareholders.
Corporate governance experts say Google has met minimal
disclosure requirements but will face increasing pressure while
Page remains out of sight.
On Friday, Google's shares rose 1.1 percent to $571.48,
lifted along with the rest of the Nasdaq.
"It gets them over the first disclosure hurdle, that is
they've alerted shareholders to the fact he's going to have this
health effect," said James Post, a professor of management at
Boston University who focuses on corporate governance issues.
"It's OK for them not to say that. As more information
emerges from other sources, the tough questions still lie ahead,
and there will be continued pressure to keep answering those
Google would not comment on its CEO's medical condition on
Page, co-founder Sergey Brin and Schmidt control a majority
of the Internet company through special shares that give them
more voting power.
That capital structure, emulated by a new generation of Web
companies from Facebook Inc to Zynga Inc, grants
founders enormous influence over their companies, and also
entwines their fate with the corporations they lead.
Wall Street analysts mostly took the news of Page's extended
absence in stride, though some expressed concern about the lack
"It's the number one thing I'm concerned about today just
because there's so little data available," said BGC Partners
analyst Colin Gillis.
JP Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth noted that Page has not posted
any messages to his Google+ profile since May 25.
"We have no specific reason to think there is anything more
to Larry's condition, but we find it odd that the company would
already rule him out of the 2Q call, which is likely still a few
weeks away," Anmuth wrote to clients late on Thursday.
"This could raise some questions among investors."
Simon Best, a head and neck surgery specialist at the Johns
Hopkins Voice Center, said most cases where doctor might order a
patient to rest their voice involved either a vocal chord
hemorrhage or bleeding, or throat surgery of some sort.
"We actually very rarely put people on complete voice rest
where they are not cleared to talk or allowed to talk," West
said. "There are probably some practice differences between
physicians and whoever is treating him, but there are only two
scenarios where we put people on voice rest: if they've had
vocal cord surgery, or if they've had a vocal chord hemorrhage."
Best, who has not treated Page, said hemorrhages were easily
treatable, but a wide variety of conditions might necessitate
The Wall Street Journal first reported on the details of
Page's internal memo on Friday.