Investment will be key if some of the world’s largest tech firms want to retain their leadership positions.
That was the common theme among the talks given by executives hailing from technology companies such as YouTube, Alphabet, Google and Instagram during the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Dana Point, which ends today. While many of the discussions centered around balancing work and personal lives as well as career trajectories, it became clear on the subject of business the only way to remain nimble and ahead of the competition is for companies to open up their wallets.
“Right now we’re investing in the platform and we’re investing a lot,” YouTube chief executive officer Susan Wojcicki said Tuesday.
Wojcicki, asked about the company’s profitability, said the company’s focus is elsewhere for the time being. She pointed to opportunities for YouTube with the 18- to 24-year-old demographic, which is fleeing regular television viewing. The YouTube boss, who was Google’s 16th employee, said YouTube has more than a billion monthly users and is now reaching more 18- to 49-year-olds with mobile alone than any cable or broadcast network.
Wojcicki reported virtual reality and emerging markets are also places for YouTube to possibly invest.
Pressed again on the subject of profitability, Wojcicki said there is no timetable, reiterating, “Right now we’re in investment mode.”
Spending — but doing so smartly — is also top of mind for Google and parent Alphabet.
“We are very focused on long-term revenue growth,” said Ruth Porat, chief financial officer of Alphabet and Google in response to references to the company’s more recent cost-cutting efforts. “We need to keep investing in the drivers of long-term revenue growth. That doesn’t give us a pass on expense management, so what we’ve been doing is slowing the rate of growth of expenses.”
Porat told the crowd on Wednesday that the company’s move from Google to Alphabet has so far been “really positive.” The executive went on to say the runway for the company to continue to evolve is long, describing the firm as still “early-stage.”
Instagram chief operating officer Marne Levine said the social media platform has seen significant growth of advertisers in more recent months, going from 200,000 six months ago to some 500,000 advertisers today. The company currently counts 500 million active monthly users, 80 percent of whom are outside the U.S.
The app, which began as a photo-sharing site, much like the broader industry, now finds itself evolving to be part of the shift to video.
“Motion is the new filter,” said Levine, who noted video has exploded in the past six months.