Competitors wary of Google chief's closeness to Obama

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New York, Nov.11 : An image of Google CEO Eric Schmidt flanking U.S. President-elect Barack Obama during his first post-election press conference is being with alarm by Google's competitors.

"This terrifies Microsoft. There's a reason why people are scared to death of Google," Politico quoted a Democratic lobbyist familiar with the industry, as saying.

Friday's press conference Friday came just two days after Google threw in the towel on an attempted Internet advertising partnership with Yahoo.

Google says that Schmidt was acting on his own, and his politics don't reflect the company's official stance.

"Eric's endorsement of Sen. Obama was a personal matter, and as a company Google was neutral in the campaign. We look forward to working with the new administration and congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to keep the Internet open and to promote economic growth," said Adam Kovacevich, Google's senior manager of global communications and public affairs.

Some insiders say Schmidt's closeness to Obama could benefit Google, not on the big decisions in Washington, but on the accumulation of smaller, less-visible matters.

Beyond the perennial antitrust battles, Google has a host of other issues pending in Washington, from broadband access and net neutrality to privacy rights to patent reform and copyright policy.

And it hasn't gone unnoticed in the lobbying community that Google has been quietly upping its participation in the Washington scene for nearly a year.

Not only was Schmidt on the campaign trail and on Obama's economic advisory committee, but he also assumed the role of chairman of the influential New America Foundation early this year.

Google didn't donate money as a company, but Schmidt wrote a personal check of one million dollars, single handedly financing a healthy portion of the foundation's 12.9 million dollar annual budget.

The New America Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy think tank, will clearly be at the center of the new administration's thinking on economic issues.

Schmidt and two other of its board members were among the 17 influential economic thinkers who stood behind Obama Friday.

ANI

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