By Liana B. Baker and Lisa Richwine
SUN VALLEY, Idaho, July 12 (Reuters) - Google Inc CEO Larry Page, absent from the Internet company’s biggest public events for weeks, is recovering from an unspecified ailment that caused him to lose his voice and was in the office on Monday, Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said.
Page has stayed out of the public eye since last month, when he was a no-show at an annual shareholders’ meeting after having “lost his voice,” Schmidt explained at the time. His prolonged absence has raised questions about the health of the 39-year-old Google co-founder and the mystery condition affecting his voice.
Schmidt would not go into details of what ailed Page, but said the co-founder has been taking meetings at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Schmidt told reporters at the annual Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley on Thursday.
“He’s still recovering. Larry is doing much better. He was in the office on Monday,” Schmidt said. “Larry ran the meeting. He is talking, but talking softly.”
Page, who apart from being CEO is also one of the company’s largest shareholders, is also expected to skip the company’s post-earnings conference call next week.
His unexplained absence comes at a time investors are keen to hear the company’s thinking in getting into hardware with the Nexus 7 tablet and taking on the likes of Amazon.com Inc’s Kindle Fire, and eventually Apple Inc’s iPad.
The7-inch tablet, made by Taiwan’s Asustek, is expected to help funnel mobile users to Google’s online trove of content, including YouTube. Online pre-sales on Google Play and select retailers’ websites such as Office Depot’s have commenced, with the first tablets expected to arrive next week.
Demand “was immense in the first week,” Schmidt said, without giving details.
The world’s No. 1 search engine generated $38 billion in revenue last year. But with consumers spending more time on social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter, and increasingly accessing the Web on smartphones instead of PCs, investors are trying to figure out how Google’s business will be affected.
In May, Google acquired smartphone maker Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion.