Shareholders will likely be relieved by Google's standout performance in the first quarter. The stock, which had been sinking like a rock, will almost certainly rebound. And Google's self-satisfied executive team will congratulate themselves once again. Hubris, reinforced by the numbers, reigns at the Googleplex.
A pity. In the long run, a humbling would have helped Google. Instead, CEO Eric Schmidt's trademark cockiness was on display — to the point that he lied about the progress of its search for a replacement CFO. (Schmidt said in the earnings call that no offers had been made; we've heard two candidates have turned down the job so far.)
It's hard to imagine that an advertising downturn wouldn't hurt Google. Schmidt suggested that if economic conditions turned tough, Google would simply snap up more of the advertising market. And Google's failures? Someone else's fault. Sales chief Omid Kordestani blamed sluggish-headed advertisers for not embracing YouTube's video ads. Cofounder Sergey Brin suggested slow networks and lame phones were at fault for Google's still-nascent mobile-ads business.
Google, in short, remains in a bubble. Its fate is unaffected by the outside world, unless its executives need someone else — someone technologically inept, preferably — to take the fall. Just wait for Google to have a bad quarter. Expect to hear excuses so convoluted that it took an army of PhDs to come up with them.