Google CEO Larry Page opens up about his vocal cord problem

Google CEO Larry Page says his two vocal cords are unable to move properly, which makes it difficult for him to speak.
(Chris Hondros / Getty Images)

Google CEO Larry Page has come forward with the reason why he missed key company events in 2012.

In a Google+ blog, the company co-founder said lingering problems with his voice caused him to miss Google’s shareholders meeting and developers conference in 2012. His absences led some investors to raise questions about his ability to continue running the company.

Until Tuesday, neither Page nor the company had elaborated on his health.


Page, who took over as Google CEO in 2011, said that his problems stemmed from a bad cold 14 years ago that led his voice to become hoarse. He was diagnosed by a doctor as having a left vocal cord paralysis, but Page said he wasn’t too concerned because he could still speak, albeit weaker than before.

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However, the ailment spread last summer to his right vocal cord despite having been told by doctors that the chances of that happening were “extremely rare.” Once again, he caught a cold, his voice became hoarse, and he was told that his right vocal cord had limited movement as well. Doctors were unable to determine what had caused the damage either time, Page said.

Page’s revelation came a day before Google’s annual developers conference, Google I/O, is slated to start. During the conference keynote, the company typically makes new announcements and unveils products, but it doesn’t sound like Page will be giving any long demonstrations.

“Giving long monologues is more tedious for me and probably the audience,” he said.

The announcement Tuesday was probably intended to placate investors who were worried about Page’s ability to run Google. He said he is still able to do everything he needs to at home as well as at Google, but his voice is softer than before. Page also said vocal cord nerve issues can also affect breathing, but he said his stamina is still well.

Page joked about what fellow Google co-founder Sergey Brin told him.

“Sergey says I’m probably a better CEO because I choose my words more carefully,” Page said in his post. “So surprisingly, overall I am feeling very lucky.”

To help figure out what caused his ailment, Page said he has “arranged to fund” a significant research program through the Voice Health Institute. He also encouraged others who suffer from his or similar conditions to take a survey so more information can be gathered about the health issue.


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