At Google, Larry Page’s Dreams Keep Getting Bigger

A little over a year ago, Google CEO Larry Page convened his direct reports, the company’s dozen or so senior vice presidents, for a project that would take up two days a week for a couple of months. About 100 other employees below the SVP rank also participated in the effort, dubbed Google 2.0.

The aim was to come up with goals for the company in areas ranging from subscription businesses to location services to developing replacements for traditional passwords.

Mr. Page, people close to him say, felt he didn’t have enough control over Google’s product direction. He believed Google’s main teams were too big and wanted better focus and more deliberate resource allocation. “The business was growing super fast, but without his stamp on it,” said one participant.

A closer look at Google 2.0 and a handful of other big ideas floated by Mr. Page—including the creation of a second major research lab alongside Google X and building a model airport and city—shows the remarkable scope of his ambitions for a company that still makes most of its money on Web-search advertising.

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“People felt irked about that,” the participant said.

—Jessica E. Lessin contributed to this article.

Hunter Walk and Amir Efrati commented on this article.
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Last fall, at an off-site meeting with colleagues, Mr. Page asked them to imagine if they could write a $1 billion check to a person for a single goal. Who would it be?