Breakfast With Google’s Vint Cerf

This morning, I joined 500 or so members of the San Diego Venture Group to hear Vint Cerf, the tech legend who was instrumental in the Internet’s creation in the 1960s. More recently, he’s been working as a very high-profile goodwill ambassador for MCI, and now Google.

Before the talk, the conversation at the breakfast table, appropriately enough, turned to Google. The very bright, entrepreneurial San Diegans at the table  biotech and Qualcomm types  are big Google searchers, like everyone else. But in breakfast chit-chat, it was readily apparent they hadn’t thought much about how the company makes money, and how it affects the advertising ecosystem  a real wakeup call. The media and search business isn’t as obvious as it seems.

Cerf’s talk was funny and delightful, and decidedly nonpartisan, which is his style. He reviewed the history of the Internet, and its true genius  total connectivity. One slide showed a years-old photo of Cerf, known for his elegant three-piece suits, in a T-shirt that said “I P on Everything.”

To be relevant for the new generation, Cerf emphasized that a focus on connectivity means not only PCs, but also mobile devices as well. Worldwide, they’re going to have multitudes more users than PCs, he noted. And mobile devices aren’t just telephones either, he said, pointing to his BlackBerry.

Societally speaking, Cerf is looking for Google and other Internet companies to play a big role in the world’s roiling issues, such as global warming. Google Earth, for instance, is developing geothermal maps that will not only show what the world looks like today, but also what it looked like a few years ago and before that. “What we need to do is show how the world is going to look a few years from now. Imagine what real estate agents would do with that!” he cracked.

Big thinkers like Cerf don’t get trapped talking about money  that’s what CEO Eric Schmidt did today in New York, noting that Google once again beat all forecasts, with Google-owned sites jumping 76 percent from last year, earning US$2.28 billion this quarter. Meanwhile, the AdSense network was up 45 percent from last year, bringing in US$1.35 billion last quarter. The percentage growth, of course, is what we can relate to.

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