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Hours before I/O, Larry Page opens up about his hoarse voice

The CEO addresses the health complications responsible for his hoarse voice

By Zach Miners, IDG News Service
May 14, 2013 04:35 PM ET

IDG News Service - Less than 24 hours before Google kicks off its annual I/O developers confab in San Francisco, Google CEO Larry Page is revealing why his speaking voice is so soft.

Stemming from a "bad cold" 14 years ago that caused the executive's voice to become hoarse and never fully recover, Page was subsequently diagnosed with left vocal cord paralysis, a nerve problem that can cause a person's left vocal cord not to move properly, Page said Tuesday in a post on his Google+ feed.

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Despite extensive examination, doctors have yet to identify a cause, though some have speculated that virus-based damage from the cold may have played a role, Page said.

"It is quite common in cases like these that a definitive cause is not found," he said.

Last summer, the same pattern occurred -- a cold followed by a hoarse voice that didn't improve -- and doctors determined that Page's second vocal cord had limited movement as well, he said.

Page is still fully able to serve as CEO of Google, "though my voice is softer than before," he said, adding that "giving long monologues is more tedious for me and probably the audience."

However, Page's ability to exercise "at peak aerobic capacity" has been reduced, because vocal cord issues can also affect your breathing, he noted.

Page was also diagnosed in 2003 with Hashimoto's thyroiditis, a benign inflammatory condition of the thyroid, though it is unclear whether this condition is connected to his vocal cord problems, he said.

Page's raspy, monotone voice has a tendency to generate questions whenever the executive speaks publicly. The executive spoke at length during the company's most recent quarterly earnings call in April, and took questions from analysts following his prepared remarks.

The opening keynote session at Google I/O begins at 9 a.m. Pacific time on Wednesday, though the event's official agenda does not specify who will be leading it.

Google could not be immediately reached to say whether Page will be speaking during any portions of the conference, or whether his condition might have any future impact on his public speaking engagements more generally.

Last year, Google split its I/O event lineup into separate keynote sessions for its Android and Chrome operating systems; this year there is just a single keynote address that runs for two-and-a-half hours.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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