pi dont really get google base. why would i be motivated to post a review or (their example) recipe? is it to share with my 500 million closest friends? am i hoping to become famous for posting the best chicken tikka recipe? and what motivates me to search there for random stuff? why would i want to post my car for sale there instead of craigslist, tribe or a bunch of other places, especially when google already searches those places?
my other big question is whether google is opening this service to the same crawling it has benefitted from to the tune of $108 billion? [craig donato, can you tell us whether oodle will soon be showing google base results?]
i have deep admiration (and envy) for google. and i believe the company has helped to recast a highly positive light on silicon valley both in showing that innovation can still generate great new mousetraps and in setting an amazing example of how to do corporate culture right. in its short history this company has done more to help the world through its products and google foundation than we’ll ever see from walmart.
however, i worry that google is acting too much like an MBA (or worse) microsoft. i have to admit i’ve held them to a higher standard. we all know that google is not an easy company to work with. many of us have tried and failed. with this product launch, google’s intent to own every business on the web seems crystal clear. i guess there’s nothing wrong with that, however,
my take is google has chosen between two paths. one which i thought they were on was to be a platform to enable great things on the web. google could have powered everything with its search engine, ad infrastructure, massive crawling and computing power. it could have been a democratizing force, enabling small services to flourish in being found and in serving them a platform on which to innovate.
instead google has chosen to be merely another big corporate titan. like microsoft, it’s choosing to go for the gold, enriching their shareholders rather than enabling industries. msft started with the promise of an open platform that would unite and enable an industry. small companies could just build software and stop worrying about platforms. this platform turned out to be a trojan horse as msft usurped its power. initially the company enjoyed great profit growth just selling the platform but soon had to look at the apps on top to keep growing and then further to the utilities around it and any other good idea it could eat up.
like msft, google is now going after every other oppty around it, taking advantage of its trojan horse position. suddenly every company is at risk. companies as far away as walmart have to have a ‘google strategy’. today, vc’s ask every new startup how they will compete with google. (at least we dont have to answer the msft question any more.)
google started with an amazing premise of doing no evil. i truly believe its founders want to help the world. my guess is that like many companies google will be a victim of its own success. like msft it will go hire the smartest people in the world. unfortunately, those people are often sharks and have less lofty goals, especially when they have yet to make their billions.
google base is a very msft mba approach to the world. while it makes business sense, it lacks soul. it does as little to help the community as bringing in a walmart. in fact, google feels a like walmart today. once the excitement over trying out their latest release wears off we are left with the realization that they are going to ultimately put the corner grocer (being craigslist) out of business, and suck value out of an economy not add back. and while it’s a beautiful day here in san francisco, it’s a sad one for me to see a company with so much promise to help the world, primarily focus on helping itself.
do we really want this form of capitalism? where companies like msft, walmart and now google pacman up industries, turning founders into billionaires who then hopefully make big philanthropic donations back to the community. is this sustainable capitalism? yes we live in a free market and yes we can choose how to come together as ants. united we stand, divided we work for google and walmart.
one last thought to all those ‘web 2.0’ers’ listening. WHEN ARE WE ALL GOING TO WAKE UP AND REALIZE THAT NONE OF US COMPETE WITH EACH OTHER? WE ALL COMPETE WITH GOOGLE, MSFT AND YAHOO. the only chance we have of enabling an independent industry is to come together, leverage s resources, create and protect a level playing field. otherwise, we are all in the business of creating great products in the hope we can sell to them before they build it. how fucking boring is that?