Google's decision to censor its search engine in China was bad for the company, its founders admitted yesterday.
Asked whether he regretted the decision, Mr Brin admitted yesterday: "On a business level, that decision to censor... was a net negative."
The company has only once expressed any regret and never in as strong terms as yesterday. Mr Brin said the company had suffered because of the damage to its reputation in the US and Europe.
Both founders yesterday offered some solace to the newspaper industry, which has been most threatened by the growth of online news providers. Larry Page said: "I believe in the future of newspapers," before admitting that he reads all his news online. His colleague said he read a Sunday newspaper "and it's nice".
Rather than suggest paid-for content was doomed, they called for a new model to collect revenues. "I should probably pay for the Wall Street Journal but I don't because it's a hassle," said Mr Page, who is worth billions. "I'm not worried about the money thing, it's just a hassle."