Sowing the seed of one’s own demise
May 29, 2007 Leave a comment
Cringely’s basic argument is this. There are lots of smart people working at Google right now and part of the Google policy is to allow people to allocate 20% of their time on their own projects. Since there are so many people, there will be many projects, and because of the nature of the company most of these projects will never make it to the Google web site. So these people will eventually take these ideas elsewhere, potentially building a Google killer. Ok, so this is somewhat abbreviated so go read the article.
The Search Engine Journal disagrees, but won’t reveal the reasons why not, which rather dents the credibility of the article, relagating it to an opinion piece with no backing, in a rather childish way.
I have a different take on the whole thing. I agree that people will be leaving Google to start their own thing, it makes sense that once your stock vests that it is time to leave and do your thing, whether it is angel investing, becoming a VC, or starting up your own company. This has happened many times before, with AOL, with Microsoft, will Ebay, Yahoo, the lost goes on.
And one of these new companies may be the one that takes on Google, but Cringely draws a cause and effect relationship which is not as definite as he makes out.
I think the real danger to Google is from within. Once the company gets settled and cosy, it will get slow and will have a harder time identifying new threats when they appear, or have a harder time reacting to them because of its own inertia. The key is to keep Google hungry and foolish, something which is very hard to do as a company gets larger.