Google's Schmidt on Privacy, Facebook and Compensation

Google CEO Eric Schmidt kicked off the Web 2.0 Summit with a cautious interview. He chose his words carefully and footnoted his jokes, especially when it came to controversial topics like privacy.

Though Facebook just announced its new "modern messaging" system Monday morning, Schmidt didn't address the product head-on. Schmidt made a point to stress that the social space is not a zero-sum game and that everything will get more social. He deflected questions about whether Google is planning a new product that'll be a Facebook rival, but said that Google can make its existing products, like search and maps, more social.

What about the buzz that Google is raising salaries across the board to prevent attrition to Facebook? Schmidt says there isn't anything to it. The company continues to hire and "people are dying to work" at Google, he said.

So why the raises? Google surveyed its employees and found that despite all the perks and the company's success (i.e. the stock's growth), employees still care most about base compensation. And the company can afford the raises. Schmidt said Google's no longer in recession "lock-down" mode.

When it comes to privacy issues, Schmidt was emphatically respectful of consumer concerns, saying that Google has learned a lot. He says there are certain privacy lines that Google simply won't cross, like real-time tracking and face recognition which are are just too controversial. And there are privacy decisions that Google just won't make itself. It's putting those decisions in the hands of users.

One result of this extra caution? Google won't rush products out as fast as it used to.

Questions? Comments?