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Google's Larry Page talks of killing the 40-hour work week

Sharon Gaudin | July 8, 2014
Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page said we may someday see more part-time work weeks than we do today -- and that would be a good thing.

Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said Page sounds like he's living in, or at least envisioning, a utopian world.

"Page's strategy sounds a lot like the world of Star Trek: The Next Generation, where they constantly allude to a society where automation has taken away the need for humans to work for the necessities of life," said Olds. "Like the show, Page also skips over the inconvenient details like how well part-timers will be able to live on half salaries, particularly in a place as expensive as Silicon Valley."

The idea, though, might fly with Americans who've been struggling to find work.

"This probably isn't going to go down well with their full-time employees, but it might win them some fans with the unemployed," added Olds. "There's another angle to this as well, part-time workers typically don't receive full benefits, which could be a very large savings for the corporation."

If that wasn't controversial enough, Page took on the resentment that non-techies, specifically in the San Francisco area, have toward those working at major tech companies like Google and Facebook.

Page did not blame himself or lay it at the feet of his company, as many in the San Francisco area do.

"This kind of thing is a really a governance problem, because we're building lots of jobs, lots of office buildings and no housing," Page said. "You also have a lot of people who are rent controlled, so they don't participate in the economic increase in housing prices. It actually hurts them. It doesn't help them. I think those problems are more structural and very serious problems."

Page and Brin also took some questions on a time back in 1997 when they, along with their early partners, considered selling their page-ranking technology.

Ultimately, they weren't offered enough money for the deal. But Page said it went beyond the money.

"The reason I think we really didn't sell the company was because we talked to all these search companies and they weren't that interested in it," said Page. "We thought, Why would we go work in a place that doesn't believe in search.

"Ultimately, for me it was about...wanting to do something in that area and it didn't seem like it was going to happen in those organizations."


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