NWW: How does adding more direct answers fit in with this strategy?
WA: Answers aren't a new idea. The first time I saw answers was from Excite back in 1997. The idea behind it is to figure out what the consumer really wants. If they type in "Red Sox score" they'd rather see the Red Sox score. They don't need a list of Red Sox websites. That kind of direct information leverage is interesting and challenging. But information providers can get frustrated because they've given you a Red Sox score but you haven't clicked on their link and you're not viewing their ads.
NWW: What further changes do you see Google making?
WA: I think what we're going to see is the emphasis that Google has placed on Google+ to continue. That has potential for backlash if they emphasize it for too long, but the value of linking search and Google+ will be a very important direction for Google to grow.
What Google+ needs is a "FarmVille" or something that's going to get people to engage. Google hangouts are really cool but the killer thing isn't there yet. Once it's there the magnetic effect will kick in and Google+ will have its own identity. Remember, there were a lot of things that were like Facebook that existed before Facebook.
NWW: Is there something right now that no major search engine is providing that you think a young upstart search company could provide?
WA: I don't see it right now. I can't see something that another search company can do better right now that would lead everybody to it. Keep in mind, though, that I used to think we didn't need Google because I thought AltaVista was pretty good. But for the time being Google has the building blocks it needs to continue to consolidate its lead in search -- it has Google+, it has Maps, it has YouTube and it has Android.
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