Yes, Google can build a social network. Amid a record quarter with earnings up 36 % from last year, CEO Larry Page gave a stat that shouldn't surprise too much given the hype : Its social network Google+, just a few weeks old, already has 10 million users.
That's a far cry from Facebook's 750 million, but a sign Google can compete with Facebook, which is expected to become the single-largest seller of online display ads this year.
On a call with analysts, CEO Mr. Page said a billion items had been shared on the nascent network, which is linked in with Google's other products and services and will provide a new trove of data with which to inform search and target ads. Also, Google said another consumer initiative, its Chrome web browser, had been downloaded 160 million times.
"Our goal is to make sharing on the web like sharing in real life," he said. "In real life we share different things with different people." It was a reference to a feature of Google+ that allows people to categorize their relationships into discrete groups or "circles," such as friends or acquaintances or work. Mr. Page also likened Google+ to a toothbrush, saying Google is focused "on services people use twice a day."
The latest earnings period also reflects, to some degree, Mr. Page's new stewardship of the company he helped found, which now employs more than 28,000 people across four continents and includes a host of new business units. Mr. Page took over in early April, and heeding earlier criticisms that his aloof behavior caused concern among investors, he directly answered questions from analysts in the company's recent earnings announcement.
Google didn't address recent regulatory investigations into the company. In June, the Federal Trade Commission opened a wide-ranging anti-trust examination into the company's business practices and may turn out to be the largest, most comprehensive government challenge thus far.
Separately, the Department of Justice is reviewing Google's recent acquisition of AdMeld, a startup that helps web publishers sell advertising and figures neatly into Google's plans to dominate the digital marketplace of buying and selling online ads.
Second-quarter sales, excluding revenue passed on to partner sites, rose to $6.92 billion. That topped $6.57 billion, the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Net income climbed 36 % to $2.51 billion, or $7.68 a share, from $1.84 billion, or $5.71, a year earlier. The company's shares rose as much as 11% in late trading on the Nasdaq stock market.
--With Bloomberg --