Larry Page explains his voice problem, announces research grant

Google’s Larry Page has offered the first explanation for his recurring voice problems, which he said Tuesday have been diagnosed as resulting from vocal cord paralaysis.

Since a recurring voice problem forced Page to skip several public events last year, the tech world has speculated widely about what had robbed the Google cofounder and CEO of his ability to speak. Page has since recovered, although his voice still often sounds strained. But he hasn’t said much publicly about the problem until now.

In a post on his Google Plus account, Page said Tuesday that his problem was first diagnosed about 14 years ago after he suffered a bad cold. At the time, he said a doctor told him his left vocal cord wasn’t moving properly. Then last summer, after another bad cold, Page said his right vocal cord also developed limited movement. In both cases, he said, the exact cause hasn’t been determined, which Page said isn’t unusual, although he said “there was speculation of virus-based damage from my cold.”

Page reported Tuesday that he’s been learning more about voice issues and has arranged to fund “a significant research program” through the Voice Health Institute, to be led by Dr. Steven Zeitels of the Harvard Medical School.  The amount of funding wasn’t disclosed. But in classic Google fashion, Page is also inviting people to participate in a survey aimed at gathering more information about people with similar conditions.

Vocal cord nerve issues can also affect breathing, Page said, “so my ability to exercise at peak aerobic capacity is somewhat reduced. That said, my friends still think I have way more stamina than them when we go kite-surfing.”  And although his voice is still softer than it used to be, Page said he’s able to do “all I need to do at home and at work.”

Brandon Bailey Brandon Bailey (338 Posts)

Brandon Bailey covers Google, Facebook and Yahoo for the San Jose Mercury News, reporting on the business and culture of the Internet.