Larry Page rumored to miss Google I/O due to voice-related health problems

June 25, 2012
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Google CEO Larry Page is now said to miss due to some unexpected health problems the main event in Google’s yearly calendar, Google I/O, scheduled to take place between June 27-29 in San Francisco.

Specifically, the CEO has lost his voice according to a Wall Street Journal report, and thus he won’t be able to take the stage during the keynotes of the developers conference. Strangely enough, he also missed Google’s annual meeting last Thursday and he is said not to make an appearance during Google’s upcoming Q2 earnings call that should take place in mid July.

Google has not detailed the health issues and the secrecy surrounding this matter remind analysts of the way Apple handled the illness of its co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs in previous years. Due to his on-going battle with a rare form of pancreatic cancer, Jobs was forced to take a medical leave of absence three times in the recent years. Tim Cook, then the COO of the company, ran the company during those absences and he eventually became CEO replacing Jobs in August 2011. Jobs passed away last October, a day after the iPhone 4S was unveiled.

With that memory still fresh in people’s minds, it’s no wonder to see analysts or investors question Google’s disclosures regarding the health matters of the 39 year old CEO.

In his turn, Page wrote a letter to employees last Thursday telling them that he is still in charge of the company and that “there is nothing seriously wrong with [him].” Google’s Executive Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt confirmed the voice-related health issues and ensured everyone that “Larry will continue to run the company, he’s running all the strategic business decisions and all that.”

Since Page is the CEO of a public traded company, the law requires Google to disclose any health issues he may have, even if that means disregarding his privacy. However, companies prefer to measure their steps in these situations, Apple’s case being an example for how such matters can be resolved, even if they’re not necessarily appreciated by investors.

The situation is a bit ironic when looking at privacy matters alone, as Google has been accused a number of times to have infringed the privacy of its customers with various online missteps and debacles, yet the company is not willing to share more about the health issues of its number one man.

The Journal was able to find some explanations for Page’s rather long absence, although the doctors that the publication talked to are only speculating at this time, without having actually seen the CEO:

Seth Cohen, a laryngologist and associate professor at the Duke University Voice Care Center, said Mr. Page could have wide range of ailments including acute laryngitis, which is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the vocal cords and requires resting one’s voice for at least week or two.

Another potential cause is muscle tension dysphonia, which occurs when the muscles around the larynx, or voice box, are too tight and causes a person to use excess tension while speaking. Voice therapy is often required for such an ailment, said Dr. Cohen, who hasn’t treated Mr. Page.

Some people who naturally produce an unusual-sounding or hoarse voice may develop benign lesions that grow on the vocal cord, he said. “That could have progressed to the point where he’s having difficulty speaking,” he said.

Surgery is sometimes required to remove the growths, Dr. Cohen added, and recovery could take a month or longer.

While hoping that in the end there’s nothing serious with the CEO, we’ll be back with more details regarding his absence from Google I/O and the unscheduled Q2 earnings call.

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