Doing an about-face on key issues: It’s not just for politicians anymore. Tech honchos like Ellison, Schmidt and Ballmer do it from time to time — even the mighty Steve Jobs is guilty.
Google (GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt on privacy
"If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. But if you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines, including Google, do retain this information for some time. And we’re all subject, in the U.S., to the Patriot Act, and it is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities."
"The reason that you should trust us is that if we were to violate that trust people would move immediately to someone else. We’re very non- sticky so we have a very high interest in maintaining the trust of those users."
Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Carol Bartz on Search
"Search will continue to be an integral part of the Yahoo user experience, and we will continue to integrate search throughout all our properties, and invest in making our user experience even better based on search functionality."
-July 2009, at the announcement of Yahoo’s search partnership with Microsoft (MSFT)
"Search isn’t what we’re after … I don’t wake up in the morning and say ‘Gosh, what am I going to search?’ That’s not what I do. I wake up and say, ‘What’s happening?’ And that’s really what Yahoo is."
Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs on admitting mistakes
"Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations."
"This is life in the smartphone world. Phones aren’t perfect. It’s a challenge for the whole industry, and we’re doing the best we can, but every phone has weak spots."
-July 2010, after waiting 22 days to admit (sort of) that Apple made mistakes in designing antennas for the iPhone 4.
Oracle (ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison on cloud computing
"What the hell is cloud computing? I guess we’ll make some ‘cloud computing’ announcements…I’m not going to fight this thing. I don’t know what we’d do differently in the light of ‘cloud computing’ other than change the wording on some of our ads."
"We believe the cloud is a platform where you run a wide variety of software … it’s a comprehensive development and execution environment that can run virtually ALL your applications."
-Sept. 2010, during Oracle OpenWorld keynote
Salesforce.com (CRM) CEO Marc Benioff on Oracle and Larry Ellison
"Where the world is going and where Larry [Ellison] is going are in conflict."
"Larry is my mentor. They are a vendor to us. We have a great relationship with them."
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on privacy
"We need to give people complete control over their information, which will actually enable more sharing … Giving the control is what allows that sharing to take place."
"People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time … and we decided that these would be the social norms now and we just went for it."
-January 2010, on Facebook’s decision to make user information public by default.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on the iPhone and Windows Phone 7
"There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 70 percent of them, than I would to have 2 or 3 percent, which is what Apple might get."
"We were ahead of this game and now we find ourselves number five in the market … We missed a whole cycle."
-June 2010, discussing Windows Mobile