Google Is Jacked

I read this article that gives some small hints about how Google operates. I accept the fact it’s not an entirely clear picture and is one sided. However, it still paints a disturbing picture. By the time I was done reading it, Google appeared to be to a surviving dot-com company.

They made a bunch of bling, and now proceed to waste it on fruitless R&D projects. I’ll be the first to admit that Google Maps is the shiz. They helped solidify the false pretense that everyone and their mom can create fantastic AJAX applications. They showed that the web can still be cool.

Yet, Google has just gloriously failed in their marketing and operation efforts. Evite.com and Bank of America still use MapQuest. Huh? If frikin’ Real can sign mad deals with the MLB, Google with their supposed gargantuan resources should be able to sign deals with those companies, right?

Ask yourself where you hear about Google. Me? Friends via word of mouth, and blogs. I don’t see them on TV, magazines and various other print ads, nor radio. I do see Google Earth being used in the news with their logo on it, even in the movie Crank. They take the same attitude their search engine did. If it’s cool, people will come. BS. There are a ton of things that suck, and people still go there and use them. Lotus Notes vs. Thunderbird or Outlook, Hotmail vs. Yahoo! or Gmail, Real Player vs. Flash Player.

There are a plethora of examples where things that suck are more prevalent than things that rock. They are either first, have better execution, or just better advertised. Google is failing majorly on the last two. Everyone will admit that despite a couple browser / OS combinations they missed with Google Maps, it was definitely very well executed, technically. It wasn’t the first; MapQuest was (or maybe someone more net savvy than me can name the “true” first). Google Maps spread via word of mouth. Huh? Dude, yes, that is extremely effective, but so too is an all encompassing advertising initiative combining various types of media targeted at various demographics.

There are many of their products that do this… or rather, DON’T do any advertising which I think is a shame. Non-Google evangelists seem to rise from the blog sphere as weeds instead of being a lovingly planted seed like other companies do.

Look at Laszlo, for example. For all the supposed thousands of developers, I’ve never seen ONE blog post about how great Laszlo is. People have reported it exists, yes, but they haven’t reported on, from a developer’s perspective, what was great and why. The only blog post I ever saw was from a CEO reporting on that they chose Laszlo to create Pandora.com, the music genome project. He is not a developer. Granted, most of my feeds come from MXNA, but if they are not there, why the hell not!?

I’ve even heard reports of companies moving from Laszlo to Flex 2, not because of price, but because of confidence. If they spread positive karma via tech evangelists, they wouldn’t have this problem.

With Google, it’s even worse because that’s all they got.

Even more disturbing is the article’s claim of no profitable endeavors. What are their metrics? Do they include AdSense clicks in GMail? That seems like added value to an existing successful endeavor to me, and thus implies GMail had a positive contribution to that revenue. I’m sure the same can be said for Google Maps, Google Earth, and various other products they have. That very fact alone makes me question the whole bloody article.

Anyway, it still did paint a pretty disturbing picture. Thousands perished in the dot-com era, except Google. Yet, I don’t think that was entirely from pure hard work and smarts; it was a lot of luck of AdSense contributing to most of their profit.

:: fast forward 4 hours after dinner ::

So, in talkin to co-workers, we disagree on some points. I definitely don’t know as much as they do on Google’s financials’. Bottom line, Bob feels Google focuses more on the user experience vs. being an annoying, ad billboard or a product with a set of tolls like something Microsoft or Yahoo would create. Pat feels they think more for the long term. Collectively, they definitely think they are doing fine.

Me? If everyone else failed in the dot-com era, but I succeeded, it’d be really hard for me to take anything anyone said that was critical about my business seriously. The article, to me, paints Google as a dot-com company; they have the same frivolous spending, the same lack of accountability in the case of the one girl losing the company millions and not getting fired. Yet, they were successful; doesn’t that grant them a license of immunity to dot-com era mistakes? I say no. If you have $900 mil a year you gross, that doesn’t mean you should pour the majority into R&D via an army of high IQ’s. Smart geeks do not a good company make.

Then again, it’s one article, short, and doesn’t really paint the whole picture. In the end, Google isn’t saying jack. I don’t mind companies being secretive, but like the article states, no clear vision clearly communicated to both customers and shareholders, is just jacked.

At this point, if I ever had even the inkling of a chance to work for Google, I couldn’t code. Oh hell no, not at this point. I’d immediately fire whatever crackhead is in charge of their marketing efforts, whip my katana tongue out to cut through the red tape, and make things happen. Geeks may think they are cool, but we need real consumers on board.

11 Replies to “Google Is Jacked”

  1. I share some of the same sentiment with you. I have a few friends that work there, and Google’s approach is to do the 3M thing by allowing people to spend up to 25% of their time working on whatever they want to work on. The innovations that result they put out there, and keep throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. VS having a very specific vision, roadmap, and direction.

    A luxury obviously not many companies can afford to do. I appreciate Google for their innovation and thinking out of the box.

    From a business perspective, they seem to be doing well on the Enterprise side as well with their Google Search Appliances.

    But I don’t even bother to look at their new innovations anymore. Most of these ‘beta’ apps are so anemic it’s not worth using.

  2. I know that from an Enterprise perspective, google is definitely trying to make inroads. We’re a Google Search Appliance customer, and between that and the google mini, I believe they are using thiose devices as door openers to sell additional services. Google’s sales guys are constantly calling wanting to stop by and show me additional services.

    From the consumer perspective, everything so far seems to be advertising driven. All of their tools attempt to drive more traffic to google. I think it will be interesting to see how they productize/monitize some of their additional services as time goes on.

  3. Everyone’s a critic. What does Adam Lashinsky , Fortune senior writer, know about running a successful dot com company? Jack shit. He’s a fucking writer at a magazine. If he knew how to make a pile of money running a dot com, he’d be doing it instead of making whatever paltry sum in comparison he pulls in writing about other people making money.

    http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2006/09/good-agile-bad-agile_27.html

    Steve Yegge, a Google employee, recently posted about what it’s like to work at Google. Seems to me that they’ve got it right. They’ve got tons of money to spend at trying to come up with the next great thing.

    It seems to me that Google is spending their time building an entire suite of tools that all work together, that all have open APIs, that all drive traffic for advertising. They aren’t hurting for cash.

    I mean, Microsoft has made worse blunders. MSN is and always has been a failure The entire MSN project has cost them more than a few million, and they still continue to pour money into it.

    Google is on top and like anyone on top in any industry, there are bound to be haters. I, for one, can see that Google is thinking long term and refuses to let themselves turn into Microsoft. They stay quick and agile and hire the best and brightest minds they can find. They obviously aren’t stupid no matter what some writer for Fortune magazine might want you to believe.

  4. And one more thing…

    Nobody is forcing people to invest in Google. If you don’t like the way the company runs their business and you think you’re going to lose money, sell your fucking stock. It’s that easy. Just get out and invest your money somewhere else.

  5. is that really Google ads that you have got here in your site?

    Perhaps Google’s performance should be rated based how much they influence us personally..I came to this site through Google.And you have adsense running here..and you dont hate getting listed on google..so ..we are all dependent on Google.

    Google is making money even through your site. They certainly dont seem to have a bad business model.

  6. Yes, it is Google’s AdSense program. I also use Gmail. I’ve also enjoyed playing with Writely as well.

    That’s the problem, though. ‘Us’. Us being geeks on a blog. I want to be able to head to my parents for the weekend and have her say ‘Go look on Google Maps for directions’ instead of MapQuest. Having her want to use something like Writely because it positively affects her life vs. Word 97.

    I don’t hate Google hope you don’t interpret my blog entry as saying that. I’ve blogged in the past about how Google has positively affected my life.

    I am a computer programmer, not a business strategist. With that said, their business model has proven successful. They have made a lot of money, and shaken up the industry. Regardless, as an investor, there is no clear path, at least to me, in their copious R&D spending. I guess if you have mad bling with thousands of smart geeks, then the throw it and see what sticks stratedgy has potential. I am just pointing out they don’t have a clearly marketed strategdy.

  7. Yes! you are right. I completely agree with you.No clear strategy, atleast for those who see it from surface.
    Basically, its not always ads and marketing that make a cult brand, its mostly word of mouth.
    In tech world, buzz marketing happens when the ‘cool factor’ is conveyed from techies to non geek ones. For this, companies should make sure that ,the cult is build at source- ‘Us’-geeks. Google did a great job in this.
    This very comment i am posting shows how good Google’s marketing has worked with me. And i will recommend Google products to my family.You said,you wanna do it too.
    What i am saying is that, perhaps you may not see Google sponsoring Oprah show,but its happening.
    This is a cult in making. Its happening, gradually.Not yet time to fire anyone :)

    [btw, i love this comment box you have here.Pretty unique! Cool!]

  8. You’re wrong.

    Throwing money to advertising in traditional media is the worst thing they could do. They are single-handedly changing the way advertising works on the Web. They are the future of advertising, especially with their purchase of youtube, and I, for one, applaud them for not trying stunts to get their name out there. No clever billboards, no killer commercials. I think they understand that their market in particular would sour on them quickly if they tried to portray their image with clever gimmicks. And if they tried to portray a conventional image, we’d all call bullshit.

    In short, they are making a play to become an indispensible part of the online experience and at the end of the day, that will do more for them than any other form of advertising. And when the time comes to advertise on the web, they’ll be the ones in charge.

    Of course…that could be scary too…I mean, their philosophy of ‘Don’t be evil’ can really only last so long…

  9. I am not wrong. If I were wrong, I wouldn’t be up here freezing my tail off in Detroit. I’m working with a large advertising agency doing online applications. Large companies are pouring money into various advertising, both online and traditional; all digital. They do so because they work, more so when used collectively with traditional forms of advertising.

    Bottom line, you can create kick ass apps, but if no one knows about them, they don’t care. Word of mouth and blogs can only take them so far. There are plenty of other digital ways to advertise that reinforce the great suite of tools they have to bring to the table. This would be confirmation of who they are, it wouldn’t be selling anything fake in the slightest.

    I’m not denying what they are doing now isn’t working; everyone knows who Google is, their stock price is still decent, and they bring a lot of value to many people’s lives. I’ve just been in this large advertising firm for the past 3 months and recognized there is a lot more they could be doing positively to bring them further out ahead more quickly.

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