Google reported revenues of $8.44 billion for the fourth quarter of 2010, an increase of 26 percent over the same period in 2009.
The solid earnings came as the company dropped the bombshell that CEO Eric Schmidt will be replaced by co-founder Larry Page from April, with Schmidt assuming the role of executive chairman. In that position he’ll focus on external strategy rather than the day-to-day running of the company.
Google credited its strong performance to the rebounding global economy, but also to the successes of its emerging businesses. Schmidt said, “Our strong performance has been driven by a rapidly growing digital economy, continuous product innovation that benefits both users and advertisers, and by the extraordinary momentum of our newer businesses, such as display and mobile.”
The U.S. made up 48 percent of total quarterly revenues of $4.38 billion. Google’s owned and operated sites – including its search property and YouTube – accounted for 67 percent of total revenues, while its network businesses commanded 30 percent.
An earnings call today contained many references to growth in display advertising, driven by its DoubleClick ad exchange and real-time bidding. Jonathan Rosenberg, Google SVP of product management, said the number of transactions on the exchange tripled in a year, with publishers also tripling their revenue for an average impression sold through that channel.
SVP Nikesh Aurora meanwhile described “a clear uplift in participation” from both advertisers and publishers in its exchange, but also described a continued influx of brand dollars from offline channels into online display ads, which he predicted would continue into 2011.
Rosenberg added that 2011 will be “the year that mobile phones will play an important role in commerce,” and described continued growth of the firm’s Android mobile operating system.
In reference to the management restructuring, current CEO Schmidt said he hoped the reorganization would enable the company to operate more efficiently. “Larry, Serg and I spend a lot of time talking about how we could run the company even better… Historically we were making decisions together which adds delays to the process,” he said. “I believe Larry is ready… It’s time for him to have a shot at running this and I’m sure he’ll do a fantastic job.”
Schmidt said the company intends to continue to invest and grow, adding that a large part of his new role will be to engage with regulators and governments as the company plays an ever more prominent role in the global digital economy. “A lot of the problem is that people don’t understand what we do and don’t do, and part of our core strategy is to communicate and to be as transparent as possible with regulators,” he said, adding, “We argue very strongly the things we do are very pro competitive.