Why Google co-founder Larry Page has disappeared from the public eye

In an era where Silicon Valley tech companies are increasingly placing their chief executives front and center to deter negative publicity, the elusive Google co-founder and current CEO of its parent company, Alphabet, has been largely absent from the public arena, Bloomberg reports.

CEO Larry Page's absence was most acutely visible during Senate Intelligence Committee hearings held earlier this month — hearings that were attended by executives from every major tech company, including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Alphabet said in a statement to Bloomberg that it offered to send another executive in Mr. Page's place and deferred all further comment to the head of one of Alphabet's subsidiaries.

The publication reports Mr. Page has been reclusive for a long time, preferring to work on technical problems away from the public eye instead of operating as the face of the company. He has been noticeably absent from product launches and earnings calls since 2013 and has not done a press event since 2015. Daily decisions are reportedly made by Google CEO Sundar Pichai and a handful of advisers, the report states.

People close to Mr. Page told Bloomberg he spends an increasing amount of time on his private island in the Caribbean. He still reportedly oversees each Alphabet subsidiary, though the extent of his involvement in vague. However, he occasionally makes an appearance at the company's weekly all-hands meetings at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.

When he took over as CEO of Google in 2011, Mr. Page was reportedly incredibly involved in the organization, working 80-hour weeks and intensely studying his idols and their leadership methods. However, in the 1990s, he was diagnosed with vocal cord paralysis, a nerve condition that made it difficult for him to speak louder than a whisper.

While his hands-off management style earned him praise early in his career, his distance of late raises doubt as to who will steer the organization as it attempts to avoid the mistakes made by other tech companies recently.

"[Mr.] Page's counterparts may not own the narrative around their companies right now, but speaking up is helping them shape it," Bloomberg's Mark Bergen and Austin Carr write. "It's strange how such denunciations can distort [Mr.] Page's image as a friendly futurist. Even his semiretirement, perhaps colored by his health issues, conjures visions of a frail and aging luminary…"

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