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Top Media Execs Gather at Google Think Tank

Oct 4, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Solidifying its position as one of the dominant forces in the American economy today, Google is hosting top media company executives at a two-day think tank at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters that kicked off Tuesday night and wraps up Thursday morning.

But the search giant invited not only executives from major media players and broadcast networks but also executives from some of the most powerful companies in the United States, such as General Motors and Nike, as well as top thinkers such as the chief scientist from NASA, the top librarian from the U.S. Library of Congress and former Vice President Al Gore.

The event marked the second annual Google Partner Forum, a conference that’s been likened by attendees to the Sun Valley, Idaho, conference held each year by Allen & Co. CEO Herb Allen. However, the Google event is more akin to a think tank; today’s speaker list included a presentation by the NASA scientist advocating why traveling to Mars is a good long-term goal, for instance.

The event is a private and closed to the press. Google declined to share specifics about attendees.

However, a television executive who attended the event told TelevisionWeek that the attendees include Les Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corp.; YouTube CEO Chad Hurley; Steve Mosko, president of Sony Pictures Television; JetBlue CEO David Neeleman; and Dell Chairman Michael Dell, as well as executives from broadcast and cable networks and the chief marketing officers for Yahoo, Nike and Sony, who participated on a panel Wednesday.

“It’s less of a deal conference and it’s a lot more of a collection of thoughts and ideas and absolutely the top leaders in digital content and distribution and technology,” the executive said. “It’s sort of everyone I need to talk to is within 200 feet.”

He said Mr. Moonves spoke earlier today, giving a presentation outlining CBS’s digital vision, similar to ones he has done at other conferences.

On the “Inside the Mind of the CMO” panel, the chief marketing officers for Sony, Nike and Google’s biggest competitor, Yahoo, discussed how CMOs deal with accountability and whether the Internet is a good venue for brand marketing, among other topics, the executive said.

He added that attendees also had the opportunity to ask candid questions of Google executives. Mr. Neeleman challenged Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin on the relevancy of the site’s search algorithms, including why a 2002 Wired magazine story on privacy issues was among the first page of search results when a user searches for “Jetblue.”

Google’s response: The search giant is working on it.