The future of Google


In an interesting article written by Gringely he questions the future of Google.

“Back in the 1990s Bill Gates said the company that would eventually beat Microsoft probably had yet to be founded, by which he meant that Microsoft was in such a strong position that only something truly disruptive would have a chance to unseat Redmond. Some people think the company Bill was describing back then might be Google. If Google, itself, is to be eventually beaten by some other company, does THAT company yet exist? I don’t think so. But unlike the scenario envisioned by Gates, I have a pretty good idea where we’ll find the founders of that Google-beating start-up. I think they are working right now at Google”, Gringely writes.

Basically it boils down to the fact that a) Google is stimulating employees to work 20% in company time to come up with new ideas, in combination with just b) plain business numbers, applicable in big corporations such as Google. After all, Google is ‘just’ a big company after all.

Let’s do the math:

Imagine those Google geniuses (which were in many cases entrepeneurs themselves as well, before being bought by Google) come up with 4,000 ideas in their 20% time. Assuming that only 1% of those ideas are truly great, great in a sense that you can easily build a business around it. Let’s also assume that there are another 360 ideas which are pretty good, good enough for VC’s and private investers. The rest of the 3,600 ideas are…eehh.. crap.

As said, Google is just another big company, and usually big companies have problems identifying the great ideas. Finding those 40 great ideas is an impossible job, even for Google. May be only 10 ideas are identified of which 5 are part of the ‘great’ ones, and 5 are crap and chosen because of business politics.

So, Google will continue with 10 ideas of which 5 will fail. What happens with those other 390 project of which 35 are absolutely amazing and 355 are pretty interesting?

They go down the drain.

Now, imagine you being a Google genius, working hard on your ideas. Chances are (99.75%) that your idea is not chosen. How would you feel? Wouldn’t you discuss it with your fellow rejected-Google-geniuses? Given the fact that you have time aplenty (in Google there is always food and drinks available for free for every employee within 100 feet, so that people are motivated to stay at work a looong time), you have sufficient opportunity to do so.

Google has an interesting financial schedule for people leaving the company, whereby the can trade their stock options. “With hundreds — and soon thousands — of Google employees vested and solvent, we’ll shortly see a dribble, then a river, then a flood of former Google employees with time, money, and experience, and some of them will have the drive to realize the dreams of those thousands of ideas that were rejected by their former company.”

Cringely ends: “Of course good ideas alone are not enough. There are always plenty of good ideas. The real money is in taking existing ideas and twisting the idea just far enough to make it work in a fantastic new way. Think Google vs. AltaVista; Apple vs. all previously existing laptops and mp3 players; YouTube vs. all previously existing video sites, etc. In addition to ideas, you need creativity, resources, connections, and luck — none of which appear to be in short supply among Google worker bees.”

Read the entire interesting article here.

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