Larry Page should put in a call to Bill Gates.
Microsoft Corp's famous founder may know better than anyone else what the Google Inc chief executive would face if he engages in a protracted legal battle against U.S. antitrust regulators.
Google said on Friday that the Federal Trade Commission has started a formal investigation into its business, raising concerns among investors about a lengthy, distracting probe and potential legal action.
Microsoft suffered that fate in its two-decade fight with the U.S. Department of Justice and state attorneys over charges that it abused its monopoly in operating systems to crush competition in other areas.
After a high-profile trial, Microsoft finally settled the matter in 2002, and only last month emerged from government oversight.
"Bill Gates felt like he was being punished for being successful, and he never really recovered from the antitrust trial," said Michael Cusumano, Professor at MIT Sloan School of Management, who was involved in the trial. "Microsoft has suffered as a result. They're not as aggressive. They definitely lost their edge."
Whether Google's Page will handle the review of his company more dispassionately than Gates remains to be seen. The 38-year-old son of academics is known for a stubborn streak, championing ambitious technology and products whose near-term financial payoffs are not always clear.
Page, along with Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, have resisted calls to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee hearing on competition in the Internet search industry.