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Page Can't Turn Back Clock At Google

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  • ...he competed with, and beat the largest software company at its own game. He's doing pretty good in my opinion.

    • by Hazel Bergeron (2015538) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @02:09PM (#35655734) Journal

      Nope. Google's still playing catchup with Apple and it's barely entered the race with Microsoft.

      Of course, it's beaten Altavista and Yahoo. In other news, Jesus has more followers than Hubbard.

      • Nope. Google's still playing catchup with Apple and it's barely entered the race with Microsoft.

        First off, Apple isn't a software company, it's main revenues are from hardware. The GP comment was in reference to Microsoft, and I do think Google has been successfully competing with Microsoft vis-a-vis anything Internet (and now, mobile). Microsoft has not been competed with on their own turf, but as Google and Apple grow the landscape away from Microsoft, it will be clear to everyone that what was once the entire consumer computing world (Windows) is now just a big continent, and the other areas are

        • First off, Apple isn't a software company, it's main revenues are from hardware.

          Apple is a software company. Most of their revenues may come from the sale of hardware, but that's because you have to buy their hardware to use their software. If Apples only ran commoditized PC software, (or commodotized smart phone software) the hardware sales would be a fraction of what they are.

          • by Dahamma (304068)

            I'd still call them a hardware company. The primarily SELL hardware, even if they do write the software on it (as have many other traditionally categorized "hardware" companies like Cisco, Juniper, Sony Electronics/SCE, etc). Whereas a primarily "software" company like Google or Microsoft makes almost all of their revenue from selling software or services running on their software (though I'd call Google a "B2B services company" more than software, since they make most of their money selling services to o

          • You understand their model and yet still have it completely backwards. Apple is a hardware company that uses software as a differentiator to get people to choose their hardware over the competition.

            You are correct in that, were their software to run on third-party hardware, they would lose some amount of their hardware sales. At the same time, they would (possibly? probably?) grow their software sales. The fact that they don't do this helps to show how they place their hardware revenue over that of thei

        • by onepoint (301486)

          The issue is simple, Microsoft is moving like a tanker at sea, it takes a while for the boat to turn, it's just got the rudder turning recently ( Bing search engine ).

          History tells us that they will over time, join the market and win it entirely or take only 1/2 or screw it up completely.

          so the only way to really fight MS, is to have many small companies that are great in there respective fields merge, and take consistent bites out of MS at all levels.

             

      • by hey! (33014)

        Nope. Google's still playing catchup with Apple..

        That appears to be true. The iPhone had a problem switching to DST, but apparently Google only has problems turning *back* the clock. Android users will have to wait until October to get theirs.

    • ...when you've sold your immortal soul to Mephistopheles.

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      Here's the biggest point: at best, that article is an op-ed. It's quite a bit light (read: completely) on facts.

      If google was "slow moving" by now, we wouldn't have android continuing to move forward among other products google has produced (and continues to).

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Really, the largest software company's "game" was search engines, and Google displaced the giant from their perch?

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      ...he competed with, and beat the largest software company at its own game.

      Either you're saying the "largest software company" is Yahoo/Altavista, or you're saying that search and web advertising is Microsoft's "own game".

      Either way, DOES NOT COMPUTE.

  • zero impact opinion piece go!

    • But... but... if you make a bunch of incitement statements without backing them up in any way whatsoever, your audience is guaranteed to grow!

      I mean, it works for Rush Limbaugh! You're not being fair. Why shouldn't this Ron Miller guy get to do the same thing!

  • This sounds like a 45 year old who longs for the golden years of being a college student. Google should acknowledge it's not a nimble startup company but a near monopoly search engine with a massive amount of money. It should invent itself as something new appropriate for it's age rather than be a 45 year old with a faux-hawk and skinny jeans.
  • by WarJolt (990309) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @02:07PM (#35655704)

    If you want to do new things, then have the entrepreneurs start a new company. Google is in the position to buy them out when they come up with something good. Isn't this the corporate way? Google is too big to do everything in house. I seem to remember they acquired youtube and picasa. If Larry Page wants to work at a small company then he should quit and if you ask me he seems a bit sentimental.

    • by JamesP (688957) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @02:25PM (#35655962)

      You can do that internally

      If he really wants to shake things up, create 'micro-startups' inside Google. Put it in a separate building, isolated area, whatever. Shoot any managers or bean-counters that approach the area

      Worked for Apple

      • by Nerdfest (867930) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @02:39PM (#35656198)
        I first read that as "Shoot any managers or bean-counters that approach the area or Worked for Apple". Seemed a tad harsh ... but still ... they are managers and bean counters. I can sometimes understand the attitude.
      • by bigpat (158134)

        Not a bad idea, but if it is too isolated but without the ability to independently sell or market its products then you get another Xerox PARC situation where you re-invent the world and then nobody at corporate understands what you do or wants to sell something that will compete with the existing bread and butter business. Can also breed resentment with other parts of the organization that are trying to compete internally and externally but with all the corporate overhead that their micro start-up peers

      • You can do that internally

        If he really wants to shake things up, create 'micro-startups' inside Google. Put it in a separate building, isolated area, whatever. Shoot any managers or bean-counters that approach the area

        Worked for Apple

        You still can't get around the thing that makes it one company, rather than a bunch of companies: if your internal startup is crap, it won't die. You have to kill it, or wait for the whole firm to go down. This means management will, despite your best efforts at separation, meddle with which ones it likes and which ones it doesn't. You will get good ideas fighting with bad ones for resources. You have the same problem of "how do I pick a winner" and the same incentives for management ("if I let project x li

        • All of the things you suggest could happen, but they mostly happen because of the sentiments that may be attached to an internal startup by its "venture capital". A regular start-up is funded by venture capital that is willing to wait for a return, but only to a point; they know when to cut their losses and move on. You suggest that an internal venture capitalist (especially one who is investing company money, not their own money) might not be willing to do the same.

          That can be avoided if Google has or hi

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        And require the managers of the micro-startups to mortgage their houses and families, threaten to bankrupt them if they don't succeed in two years, and make anyone working for them to be paid in unvested options instead of salary, just like real startups.

      • Set up an internal market using a fake currency which is converted into real money when paid to employees and external suppliers.
         

    • by fermion (181285)
      A company is always going to reflect the norms of the employees and the management. In a small firm, one person can do control much of what happens and promote a personal norm. In larger firms, managers that are there to maximize income, not promote founder's norms, will take over. The founder could solve this by disciplining such managers, but that would often involve a loss of income and company growth. In any case Google is a public company, so is beholden to the public owners, not individual risky
    • by sjames (1099)

      Or even better, help them start a new company. If the angel funded startup makes good, make the full buyout by Google the exit strategy for second round investors.

  • Google's company motto is "Don't be evil". Given that huge companies are inherently evil, why did Google's top executives make the choice to become a huge company? Surely, a smaller company would simply lack the ability to perform evil on a scale large enough to be noticed. It's like the difference between the tyranny of Joe and his sons of Joe's Muffler Shack in Flyover Territory, Oklahoma, and Microsoft. One is large and evil, and the other is equally evil but simply lacks any ability to influence eve
    • by tverbeek (457094)

      I wouldn't say that big companies are "inherently evil", but I would agree that they're not as good as small ones. Big companies lead to less competition, less innovation, Too Big To Fail Syndrome, and a host of other socially and economically detrimental things. If I ran the world, I'd put a cap on the size of any corporation, probably based on the dollar-amount of business they do. If a company exceeded that cap for any period of time, they'd have to break it up, by geography, product line, sales vs.

    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      Given that huge companies are inherently evil

      No, that's your opinion.

    • by Surt (22457)

      One could argue that if Google allowed the hole it currently fills to be filled by a more evil company, the world would be substantially damaged. As a trivial example, imagine the world if MS dominated search. That would be net-more-evil than Google being a big company.

  • Good luck ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @02:13PM (#35655808) Homepage

    Having worked for a company which went from fairly small and agile, to being publicly traded and fully "corporate" ... it's a one way trip.

    Once the accountants and management layers are in place, it's too late. Then, it's mostly becoming more bureaucratic and management heavy and filling out TPS reports.

    Sure, if you try hard you can give some room to you engineering staff to actually do their jobs ... however, I have seen entire development teams grind to a halt as someone from finance gets everybody bogged down in paperwork and reports to explain what it is that we do.

    Of course, nobody in finance was capable of recognizing that the labor costs of the people they'd derailed far exceeded the middle-level idiot who insisted that everything be done in the first place.

    While I admit that these people actually do useful things, sometimes they can stop a lot of people from building the products just so their spreadsheets are up to date.

    • The essential problem is that once you create a management, accountancy, HR or other department, the people within it will find work to keep themselves employed whether there is an actual need for them to do it or not.

      Hence TPS reports, meetings, paperwork, etc. The purpose of this flack is not to help the company, increase efficiency, or anything of the sort; its purpose is to keep management employed.

      Google has a very simple way of dealing with any oncoming "management" crisis. Fire say, 50%, of all manag

      • by Maltheus (248271)

        God yes! Most corporate jobs are about helping management do their busy work while you fight in vain to get some of the actual work for the product done. I'd say about 90% of what every major corporation does is unproductive BS to help justify some execs job. And I'd say about 90% of the projects I've worked on get thrown out before ever going to production because of management constantly side-tracking us with their brilliant "ideas," turning 3 month projects into 3 year projects.

    • Re:Good luck ... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sjames (1099) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @03:08PM (#35656718) Homepage

      It's funny how that works. The bean counters manage to assign an actual cost to every bit of trivia and insist on tracking it and justifying every last penny. Except for accounting. They assume that accounting costs nothing and so it's all pure benefit. You'll never see a cost/benefit analysis of requiring quarter hourly time accounting for salaried workers.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        It's funny how that works. The bean counters manage to assign an actual cost to every bit of trivia and insist on tracking it and justifying every last penny. Except for accounting.

        It's not just accountants.

        Long ago, I worked on a project that had experienced some churn in project management. We got a new guy, and he wanted us to track our time in five minute increments.

        I more of less told him that if that's what he wanted, 1-2 minutes out of every 5 minutes would be dedicated to tracking which bucket any

      • Then you have shitty accountants.

        I am student accountant (To be specific, an ACCA (UK) [wikipedia.org] student), and one of the major themes of *any* activity were are taught to perform is it's cost benefit analysis.

        Taking the poster below's example, if the data gained from the five minute increment provides less benefit, and is actually hindering work, then you do NOT need that data, period.

        An accountant, (or at least, a *Professional* accountant) ought to have enough common sense to know that much, it's practically part

    • Of course, nobody in finance was capable of recognizing that the labor costs of the people they'd derailed far exceeded the middle-level idiot who insisted that everything be done in the first place.

      Wait, you didn't have a TPS code for filling out TPS sheets?

  • by jsepeta (412566) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @02:15PM (#35655832) Homepage

    If Google broke up into 10 smaller entities, it could increase shareholder value and spur more innovation. Plus with the Feds going after them, they could just say, "oh, that was the old company. we're a new company."

    • by IQgryn (1081397)
      How exactly would you propose splitting it? Advertising is their only real money-maker, and splitting that would be shooting themselves in the foot.
    • by tnk1 (899206) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @02:41PM (#35656244)

      I actually think that is a good idea. The problem is that Google doesn't have 10 profitable enterprises, it has one profit center and a number of initiatives that might become profitable some day, but which have almost no chance of standing on their own without the search engine's money and market share behind it at the moment.

      So, the choice is either, take a risk with them and break off, or see if you can shepherd them to profitability and then spin them off. The former is probably going to be the path to the small, dynamic business he wants to be with again, but its an open question if he wants to accept the bad parts of that model (chaos, long hours, uncertainty, significant possibility of abject failure) along with the good.

    • by bigpat (158134)

      If Google broke up into 10 smaller entities, it could increase shareholder value and spur more innovation.

      Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, HP, Dell and EMC first.

    • Are the Feds really after them anyway? Other than in a recruiting sense?

      "Oh, Really?" seems to work for most companies. I don't see why Google would need to use the "old company" excuse.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @02:20PM (#35655898) Homepage

    Google is smaller than it looks. The core search engine team was about 90-100 people as of a few years ago.

    97% of the revenue still comes from search ads. Google has a huge array of money-draining services, some of which are labor-intensive. They're not generating much revenue. Mostly, they're defensive measures to ward off Microsoft. GMail, Google Docs, the free hosting service, etc. exist to threaten Microsoft. It's not like offering spreadsheets on line is a viable business. Even the whole Android phone thing is mostly there to prevent Microsoft from monopolizing that space. (It's also a threat to Apple. Google pays Apple $100 million a year to stay on the iPhone. If it weren't for Android, Apple might provide their own closed iPhone search engine.)

    Google spends an incredible amount of money on non-revenue defensive measures.

    • by hackstraw (262471)

      It's not like offering spreadsheets on line is a viable business.

      In 2011, I believe its much more viable than shipping perpetually outdated binaries around. We are in a service economy, not an industrial one.

      Even the whole Android phone thing is mostly there to prevent Microsoft from monopolizing that space.

      You mean the computing as a service industry? Lets be very clear here. Microsoft has 2 products in a service economy: Windows and Office. And those products are very threatened by lightweight OSes and networked applications. gmail works on phones, linux, OS X, Windows, netbooks. Windows and Office do not.

      Also, the change here is the shift from the multi-hundre

      • by fwarren (579763) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @03:26PM (#35657050) Homepage

        Nobody wants to "own" music anymore. Its a chore. People just want to listen to music.

        I take exception to that. I want to own music. A good part of my collection is made up of rare LPs CDs and Tapes that I have converted to MP3s. They are not offered by any service out there. I am worried that plenty of what they do have, will go away because it to much bother for them to keep it online.

        The only way I know of keeping all the music I like is owning it. Even if I was willing to rent it, the major labels are not willing to be land lords.

        • I'm like you. I buy music I like. I listen to Pandora for the first half of each month to find new music, but I don't pay for Pandora One because, in the second half of each month, I like to listen to music I've already paid for.

          And yet.... I don't think we're like 20 year old kids any more. (My apologies if you are still 20 - but given that your UID is pretty close to mine we're probably a similar age.) We remember when there were no cell phones, when most houses didn't have a computer, when portable m

      • by mattack2 (1165421)

        I want to own music. I have used Pandora a few times, mostly to find new similar music (since I usually listen to podcasts when I used to listen to the radio -- yes, even though I own a lot of music, I used to listen to the radio too).

        If it were *with no commercials* and VERY VERY low cost, I could see using a streaming service in addition to owning music. (I see it like Tivo vs Netflix. I like to Tivo shows, since not everything is available via Netflix (esp current news).)

    • 97% of the revenue still comes from search ads.

      Google seems to be going through the same pattern as a lot of other high tech juggernauts. They invent one or two hit products that turn them into a household name. Unfortunately for them (lucky for a competitive market) despite having mountains of cash corporate bureaucracy sets in and they never really get much else going.

      <rant>
      Slightly off topic but it seems like these giant high tech companies tend to be bad stock investments. Initially they seem good because they have explosive revenue growt

    • It's like a nuclear arms race preventing a country from investing into productive activity.
    • by Waccoon (1186667)

      Google has a huge array of money-draining services, some of which are labor-intensive. They're not generating much revenue.

      Just like Microsoft.

      Mostly, they're defensive measures to ward off Microsoft.

      Uh...

  • by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @02:26PM (#35655984) Journal

    Looks like we have some joker promoting hits on his own blog with /.

    • i'm having a difficult time getting past the 70's porn mustache.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        i'm having a difficult time getting past the 70's porn mustache.

        I was thinking Borat [neweurasia.net], myself.

        I'll spare you the pictures in the mankini. ;-)

        • by Surt (22457)

          I'm pretty sure Borat's mustache was intentionally 70's pornish.

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            pornish

            Best new word ever.

            We can have shoe pornish. Pornish game hens. Crime and pornishment.

            Sorry, I've not seen much porn from the 70s, so I can't speak to the mustache attributes -- though, I gather they weren't the only things to be out-of-control hairy back then. ;-)

      • That may have something to do with this [slashdot.org].

    • ...He must have compromising pictures of Taco or something: http://tech.slashdot.org/index2.pl?fhfilter=rsmiller510 [slashdot.org]
    • What gave it away? The linked "rsmiller510" or the credit at the end that said

      — Ron Miller is a freelance technology journalist, blogger, FierceContentManagement editor, and contributing editor at EContent magazine.

      OK, he looks like Borat. The article may not have a whole lot, but it's not that bad, and it's disclosed that it's someone's opinion. Slashdot does far worse on a regular basis.

  • Just maintain the company as small groups of 10-30 people whose customer is Google. Give them regulated autonomy. Give them intensive like monetizing what they produce (a vested interest) backed by contracts so that they willingly give Google their pipe dreams. So what you get is small businesses within Google without quite so much stress concerning financial matters or marketing or patents. It also means if someone thinks up the next killer app they will be proportionately rewarded unlike the guy from

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @03:09PM (#35656724) Journal
    When you can't turn the clock back, you turn a new page. Oh, wait. they already tried Page. Oops.
  • And this is a summary of what, exactly?

  • Big companies can do more but tend to do it at a slower pace. As long as Google keeps their winning percentage high (Apple rather than Microsoft), they'll do fine.

    If Slashdot had featured this story yesterday, Gmail vs. Wave would be the textbook Google management case. Wave is genius technology with analogs to inbox, contacts, and message threads, yet Google never integrated it into Gmail so it never got a chance to gain traction. Was that Schmidt making the hard decision not to screw up a beloved Gmail f

  • A good friend of mine recently interviewed at Google for a technical position and was turned down; a first in his career and a nasty shock for the man. This is a guy who has done fundamental work in his field, which is admittedly not web-programming but an underlying discipline that Google is now trying to get into. He said that he was interviewed by a bunch of fairly young programmers, a couple of whom admitted that they had not even read his resume. One of them said `My job is to ask you about search', an

  • If you're finding it hard to move quickly then having a "skunkworks" group at a company can help, so long as you can afford to burn cash on failures from time to time. It is useful to have a group of people with a budget to develop new products or ideas without management interference.

  • in one paragraph, to improve innovation:

    Page is taking a number of steps to help alleviate the "sluggish decision making" he sees at Google. This has included meeting with managers and trying to limit the number of projects in each engineering department

    and then, two paragraphs later:

    what he thinks Google needs to do to achieve Page's goals. Mostly, it involves letting engineers loose to innovate.

    Which is it that they want to do? Decrease the number of projects, or free the engineers to start new projects?

  • Too big to change the clock, too big to fail...HMMM
  • Clock can't turn back the page.

  • Sounds like Google wants to become bigger desperately. Google has a great search engine, a decent webmail system, an OK handheld/smartphone OS and a highly profitable advertising business. Why do they feel an urge to start dozens of other projects that compete with innovative startup companies? Is it a cultural thing, or do they seriously fear that their current products might be obsoleted so soon that they need to come up with the next big thing before someone else does? Wasn't it the megacorporations that
  • 1. Keep the incentives high.
    2. Stay cool. The only way to do this is release cool products.
    3. Smart startup strategy
    a. Stop stomping on startups lest you want to suffer Microsoft-itis
    b. But, don't buy too many startups. You end up with people just making the deal to get rich and look good.
    c. Engage startups, help them, and get them on your side. If they truly align, then buy them. If they flop, their good engineers will flock your way.
    4. Stay

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @06:40PM (#35659862) Journal
    What is needed is for them to have one core company and then set up multiple subsidiaries that compete against each other. Interestingly, MS has moved to this model VERY QUIETLY. There are a number of small search engines that are owned by MS that compete against each other to try and beat Google. MS is waiting for a real competitor to emerge before folding back the ideas into MS proper.

Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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