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The death of Google (vortex.com)
343 points by ChuckMcM 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 213 comments

Google's hubris is believing engineering brilliance alone can solve everything. They are consistently bogglingly bad at human interaction -- communications, PR, management, UX, customer service.

There always seems to be a lack of well-roundedness at Google. It didn't really matter back when they just did search, but now that they're expanding into other fields, they're looking more and more like an expert hammerer than an master of many tools.

"They are consistently bogglingly bad at human interaction -- communications, PR, management, UX, customer service."

I don't think that's actually true. In particular, I think that Google for most of its history was masterful at PR and communications - they managed to maintain a very positive public image all the way through 2011, despite being both far more powerful, more naughty, and more ruthless than the general public saw them as. I think management and UX are also quite strong at Google - they're known for sparse design and UX fails, but there's often a lot of subtlety to how Google products are designed that makes them very effective for their purposes. They did always suck at customer service, though.

Rather, I think Google's hubris is...hubris. They feel the need to have their fingers in everything. It's not enough to be the world's best Search company or even organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful, they also need to be the best social network, and best cloud provider, and best AI company, and best mobile-phone OS, and best web browser, and best daily deals site (remember their aborted Groupon purchase, soon followed by a competitor?), and do government contracts for the military, and get into China, and build self-driving cars and robotics, and be a major payment provider and operate half a dozen different chat services.

Most of the PR, communication, management, and UX fails are forced errors. They happen because there's an inherent contradiction in Google's business model. You can't simultaneously market yourself to engineers with "Don't be evil" while devising ways to help the military kill people more accurately or censoring Chinese search results; hell, at some point the military is likely going to have an issue with China potentially hacking into Google's cloud infrastructure through their partnerships. A surprising number of the UX fails also come about because some executive is protecting their turf and won't let the obvious integration & UI simplification happen even though both engineers and customers want it.

Google are accidental PR geniuses. The whole 'do no evil' thing was instinctive PR, not really thought out in the den of some PR genius.

They made their brand synonymous with the word 'search' - my god man, that's worth billions, minimum.

They've done it in an oddly naive 'authentic' way, by I think truly believing their own schtick, and drinking their own coolaid. And I'm not nearly as cynical as the above posters, Google is way more ethnical that most companies. My god man, if Google wanted to they could change electoral outcomes, simply form a massive hedge fund and beat everyone at investing, do evil things the likes of which we've never hard of. I'm constantly impressed by how actually objective they've been about a lot of stuff given 99% of other CEO's would have abused the data position a long, long time ago. Not to say they are perfect, but ... compared to most, they have been pretty good. Though that's changing.

They've done it without any hardcore ad spends, or any real classical marketing attempts to make us believe things one way or another, so kudos on them.

But yes, they are kind of bad at most classical parts of marketing, communications ... heck even some kinds of product management. But the 'Engineers first' mentality got them where they are, I'm going to doubt that part of their DNA will change.

Do no evil was a reaction to Microsoft. I don't know how old you are, but back in the 1990's/2000's Microsoft actively tried to destroy/takeover the internet (in favor of desktop and/or vendor lockin), and Google's "Do no evil" was a reaction to that: A promise to grow the internet.

And they kept that promise! Look at the internet today.

Microsoft is no longer "evil", and the internet is fine, so "do no evil" is no longer necessary.

People assumed do not evil had something to do with privacy, or this or that, or lots of other things people read into it.

It didn't. It was just one thing: Open standards and promoting the open internet.

I'm old enough to be an Engineer living 1k away from Google when it was born.

I'm not sure if I believe DNE was exactly about Microsoft, rather a more general mantra. In 98' the founders were running around giving talks about how 'advertising was ruining the internet' which wasn't really an MS things. So I think MS was just one factor, but yes, most don't remember a time when they were so dominant.

> "do no evil"

Not that it matters too much, but the motto was the much less ambitious (and more achievable) "Don't be evil".

> It didn't. It was just one thing: Open standards and promoting the open internet.

The Wikipedia article [1] presents the motto (which is actually "Don't be evil") as being much more than that, from its origin and throughout its use. On second look, it doesn't even use the adjective "open" or mention standards.

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_be_evil

> It was just one thing: Open standards and promoting the open internet.

So, where's the open standard for Hangouts?

(It used to be XMPP when it was Google Talk. But it's not anymore. And even back when, it wasn't federated, contrary to "the open Internet.")

In general, it feels like you're right, but only in a sense that Google did drive open standards - to bludgeon Microsoft. Which it did quite successfully, and we're all better off for it. But now that they have their own empire, they're not so keen on all that open stuff anymore, whenever they have a monopoly position to abuse.

> they kept that promise! Look at the internet today

I am looking. What I see is it being devoured by Google. Search 99%, Chrome 80%, private email 90%, Google accounts for work, for school kids, and Google Analytics tracking in every web site.

Citations & context? Your numbers seem unrealistic, Google does not operate 90% of email accounts. Search is definitely seeing erosion courtesy of competitors that have gotten more competent and numerous in the last few years.

> does not operate 90% of email accounts

I said private email accounts.

Outlook.com, Mail.com, Yahoo, AOL and numerous others have significant marketshare among personal accounts. Your comment claims these private email accounts don't exists.

Chrome advertising was absolutely everywhere for a good year, multiple major TV commercials and billboard campaigns in the UK at least.

Yep. And it was abusing their dominant position in search to kill competing browsers.

I don't know why they haven't been punished for that yet after the successful taming of Microsoft some years ago.

Exactly. I don't know how Google is "bad at PR" when the company maintained a sparkling image since its inception - arguably, to this day. For common person, who doesn't know or care about lethal security work or sophisticated privacy concerns (which aren't even easy to explain to your average non-techie), Google is this high-flying company full of brilliant people who are eager to provide him with a peerless search engine, a great webmail, and many other great services "for free".

All that while their primary business is advertising - not generally a well-liked industry.

Their PR management is so great that most people would be shocked to realize they're even in advertising at all.

The company also has a great reputation among engineers, and is among the most desirable employers not just in its field, but in the US in general, at a time of a booming job market with plenty of other great choices.

I also don't know about those "UX failures". The company has several web-based services that have effectively beaten all other services, including desktop-based services in their field. Do people forget this feat was considered impossible back when Google got started?

This was no easy feat - Google realized none of the browsers that existed back then was up to the task, so it launched its own browser (!) with a revolutionary new Javascript engine that was an order of magnitude faster than anything else at the time. This was an incredibly ambitious technology project, and they made it a huge success.

So while Google certainly has its failures, and we can expect more of those as it keeps its unrelenting march to become one of the most powerful corporations that has ever existed, describing them as bumbling fools who always botch "human interaction" is simply false and misleading.

They haven't really been challenged. For much of the past 20 years tech was seen as the one part of the American economy that was working. Nobody wanted to tip over the apple cart with "excessive regulation". The true test of any company is how the behave in bad times. And lets be honest even the measly bad press they now receive is a fraction of what other industries put up with. They are handling it poorly in comparison.

For comparison the banking sector managed to take down the entire economy and came out of it virtually unscathed by Washington. That is successful PR and lobbying.

> For comparison the banking sector managed to take down the entire economy and came out of it virtually unscathed by Washington.

"Unscathed by Washington"? Sure. With a squeaky clean image...? Not so much.

There was Occupy Wallstreet, demonstrations all over the country, and for the vast majority of people, the image of the banking industry has been tarnished.

Also, even though no banker went to jail for fraud, they did get more regulated, and their business suffered from government-imposed restrictions (which they are working very hard to undo).

There was Occupy Wallstreet

With emphasis on "was". People where angry for a while, the government let them vent and then everybody went back to their normal lives and government gave the rich a massive tax cut and slowly started to loosen banking restrictions.

I don't know what people you know, but the folks I know in the US aren't particularly happy about banks.

Occupy Wallstreet had a huge, lasting impact on the way much of the population views the banking and finance industry.

> government gave the rich a massive tax cut and slowly started to loosen banking restrictions.

The tax cuts are not specifically for the banking or finance industry.

They don't want to be liked, they just want to be rich. People have hated bankers since they were invented.

Google however is failing horribly at the "getting rich" part. Sure they are successful, but the EU is taking a massive chunk of their business with GDPR. California is trying to impose similar measures, and if they keep this up others will follow. The hammer of regulation will dampen their profits.

Getting bad commentary on geeky/nerdy HN is, almost by definition, bad communications/PR for a tech company.

Getting into too many fields and ending up all over the place is bad management.

Executives protecting their turfs may indeed be a recipe to getting bad UX, but that doesn't excuse the fact that it's bad UX or that bad UX is all over Google. If anything the latter points towards more bad management.

And as you wrote, customer service has always been bad.

>> Getting into too many fields and ending up all over the place is bad management.

I'm glad Google (and Apple and Amazon) got into the phone business, the camera business, the phone service business (Google Voice), the car business (Waymo) and the entertainment business (Youtube, Music, etc.)

The status quo was so awful (remember cable TV contracts with 200 channels you didnt want to watch?) and has finally improved with the tech giants putting pressure in cushy lazy incumbents.

Same for self-driving cars. Where were the efforts before Google and other tech giants go into the game? I seem to recall only incremental innovation for decades.

What I really wish is that they didnt botch some of these things (Google Voice is a great example of an amazing product with massive underinvestment (abandonment?) from Google.)

I think you're still seeing these companies as startups. They're in incremental innovation mode now. I'm biased, because I was hoping Amazon would come in and wipe the floor with Australian retail, but it's been kinda lukewarm.

We also missed out on Google Voice, will miss out on whatever TV play they're making with YouTube.

> We also missed out on Google Voice, will miss out on whatever TV play they're making with YouTube.

To be fair, us Canadians are in the same boat. You can be literally a stone's throw from the U.S. and still not get a lot of features available. Voice was never available, Wallet took several years before it was rolled out here, YouTube Red isn't available here either. Hell, most new Home/Assistant features take months to arrive here too.

> Getting bad commentary on geeky/nerdy HN is, almost by definition, bad communications/PR for a tech company.

Except there's always going to be some critics, especially when you're talking about a corporation of Google's size.

There's going to be people concerned about privacy, corporate overreach, the nature of some of its activities (such as defense contracts).

You will also get various biased opinions, such as people who were hurt in some way by Google: rejected candidates or businesses that folded due to some Google service grabbing their market share.

Hell, even if Google religiously avoided all the above, you will still get some astroturfing campaigns by its competitors!

Negative commentary on a niche website like HN doesn't actually mean much in the grand scheme of PR. Check what the average person thinks about Google. Most likely you will find it quite positive. If you're looking for a company with serious image problems, compare to Facebook.

I think their failed product track record should qualify under the category of bad UX e.g. Google Wave (confusing UI, no apparent use case for average users), Google plus (confusing UI conceptual be model when first launched, subsequently failed to get market share to Facebook partly due to obscure UI), etc.

The don't be evil mantra was problematic before the questions of military contracts or Chinese censorship, the answer to 'what is evil' is subjective. But I am surprised by the naivety of employees when they are upset that their company fails to live up to their literal interpretation of a company motto.

> "In particular, I think that Google for most of its history was masterful at PR and communications - they managed to maintain a very positive public image all the way through 2011"

I feel like this is in part because the people that write bad things about other people owned google stock or had many close friends in google.

> also need to be the best social network, and best cloud provider, and best AI company, and best mobile-phone OS, and best web browser

This is an overstatement. Yes, they want to stick their fingers in all the pies but they don't try very hard and cancel products on whims too.

Search and its revenue is all they cared about. I would actually commend Google on that focus where most others would lose themselves in the mix. Search, Gmail, Docs were their major contributions. Chrome browser is based on Apple's WebKit.

Case in point for UX: new gmail, hover over an email address, select add contact. Works for me about half the time. Edit contact fails for me 100% of the time. Been like this for months.

Really hate the new UI, but they removed the option to go back to the old one.

Thankfully, unless they remove IMAP access it isn't something that I have to deal with most of the time.

I would say they are excellent at PR. Having seen behind the scenes the reality of various initiatives, and comparing it to the media narrative they manage to spin around it... Their reality distortion field is truly remarkable.

It takes serious PR expertise for a company doing so much harm to enjoy such a consistently positive image with the media and general public. This is starting to change, but it’s a very recent development.

Google has excellent marketing. They're very good at getting people to use their products and talk positively about it.

PR on the other hand, I think to be more of a mixed bag. They've always used marketing to deflect away from poor PR. Historically in the early days their PR was better, but I think that can be attributed to the company just being better. These days, well, this whole G+ debacle can be seen as a failure in PR.

They managed to turn a minor oversight of leaking common information that likely impacted nobody into a major data breach front page announcement on every major news publisher. Pretty big PR failure if you ask me.

I really get the feeling that they like they sell the idea of their engineers over the idea that they're helping their customers solve a problem in a better way.

That's rather frustrating thing is: they've done some creative things, but it doesn't seem to be so that they've helped anyone. My guess [from their product launches and behavior] It looks like they reward people who make publicity waves and ignore the fact that nothing comes of it. Google wave? Duo/whatever the next chat app.. etc. (Now Google+)

> It looks like they reward people who make publicity waves and ignore the fact that nothing comes of it.

The world of advertising is all about eyeballs. That might explain it.

I agree and this is more or less how I have viewed them over the past few years. I would even go one step further and say they’ve almost tried to minimize human touch points from their products and overfocused on creating self-sufficient products. Exh A is how youtube has been (mis)managed.

> engineering brilliance

What engineering brilliance? Their only non-trivial product is search, and it sucks and keeps getting suckier every year.

Their ad business is no better than the competitors.

>>What engineering brilliance?

I think most people's point is some where in the mid-2000's they quite literally were the ahead of the crowd by a huge margin when it came to in house engineering. Google in many ways was the first mega web scale company. The scale of their servers, data centers, in-house research, things like MapReduce, BigTable etc etc the list is endless. Google indeed was a hub for very smart people to work pre-2010's.

Not sure what changed. I also hear their engineering driven culture has faded heavily if not totally dead. 20% time projects are no longer there, and even if they exist by a miracle they are largely hated by the internal cartels and power structures.

Arguably the biggest slip in an engineering driven culture happens when your big products come through acquisitions not in-house work. That's the first indication that bureaucracy has taken over, and no real person worth their salt is running their show. The reason why start ups can disrupt the market and not big companies, is because 1 - 2 people with a good team are what do the disruption. Its a mistake to assume that companies or your average middle manager Joe can do much in that area.

I would consider Yahoo, Altavista, EBay and Amazon the first mega web scale companies, not Google.

Product-wise, I agree. Tech-wise, most of the high-scalability infrastructure, along with many big data (and machine learning) tools and practices are copied from Google. None of the other tech giants come close to the level of innovation on the technology side.

Actually, product-wise, there's some other high points as well. At any given moment, Chrome is usually the best browser, and it's certainly the one that pushed quality forward the most.

There was a bit of a backlash in the Valley against the opposite hubris: that sales and marketing are where all the value is and everything else is a replaceable commodity. This remains the mentality in many places outside SV, and especially back East.

The reality is that excellence in all areas is ideal, but very few company leaders or cultures can manage this. Most excel at one or two.

Google is run by PMs, not engineers, data scientists, or economists. The problem is their PMs are universally bad, believing they know more than the user but knowing just as little at best.

Probably true, but gosh I sure hope not.

I know three different PMs at Google in a non-work capacity, and these three people in particular are the most 'intellectually self-righteous' people I have ever met in my life. Basically they're total bullies. I really hope this isn't exemplary of the rest of them, but your statement leads me to think that is not the case.

Just curious - PM at Google stands for Product Managers?


Not really. PMs has little influence in general.

It completely depends on the product area.

Google is run by engineers. Amazon is run by PM.

Not in any of the areas I'm familiar with. For instance they can't even fix long-standing standards-compliance bugs or other interop issues in Blink or YouTube or Google Search... they're way too busy pushing redesigns and features that will help them keep their tenuous performance leads on their own web properties.

They have very intelligent and capable folks trying to "do no evil", but ultimately they're a business, not a charity. They rarely actually care about their engineers' opinions unless it helps with public image or maintaining a competitive edge (no matter how artificially) or helping them start a new product line (or close one that isn't paying the bills).

Thankfully I will say that it sounds like there is just enough blowback over the past two or three years that it's not all bad. But it's certainly not a place that I would call "run by engineers", and hasn't been for at least 4 years now.

And Apple?

Apple doesn’t even have PMs (at least most of the sw and hw orgs). They are engineering driven. They have project managers who keep the trains running on time but have no product decision making power.

Again, I have to wonder what divisions in Apple you're talking about. The folks I know working on WebKit practically have zero decision making power. It's all about saving face and keeping Safari viable as the only engine on iOS.

I get the impression that people claiming that companies like Apple are "engineering-driven" are only talking about their new, non-core projects. But then my perceptions are only colored by the folks I know working at those companies, so whatever.

Yeah. But who tells the EPMs what to do?

I think they were actually better when the engineers were really "running the place".

They could be a bit blind about some things -- and blindsided. But once you actually made your point, they'd do something about it. They actually cared. (Or, enough of them did, to make a difference.)

Now, we have a corporately curated behemoth.

Although, it is interesting that internal pressure still occasionally produces an appearance of change, such as publicly stepping back from death robots and Wintermuth off its meds.

There's not even much engineering brilliance anymore. It's been replaced by engineering orthodoxy.

Which is it's own kind of rot.

With the exception of the recent gmail redesign they’re usually great at UX.

I like the new gmail. It got me to switch back from Inbox.

I will use Inbox until it sputters and dies. The new Gmail contains none of the features that make Inbox useful.

> none of the features that make Inbox useful

Being able to read email is useful. Seriously though, Gmail added the snooze ability, which was the one feature from Inbox I used regularly.

honest question: was there anything in particular that you liked about the new gmail that brought you back?

Knowing that Inbox was going to die, may as well switch now.

Trying to view every problem through the lens of a probability distribution seems to be Google's only way of looking at the world. Converging every answer to the same hivemind mean is not always the best solution, let's start thinking more about the edge cases and outliers which do actually still exist.

I think you should add some examples.

I for one think the opposite. They're the best at giving me exactly the ad which I may like. (I'm not saying I like the idea of an ad)

I thought Lauren does a good job here of distinguishing between the people who work at a company, and the emergent behavior of a company based on profit motive or other incentives.

Larry Bossidy wrote a book on confronting reality[1] which I found interesting because it tackles some of the issues facing Google today. Basically when you compare your new businesses (Google X, Other bets) to your monster business (Search Advertising) they look puny and weak. But sometimes if you considered them on their own they would look like good things.

One of the PMs I knew at Google told me (as he was leaving) that Google was the only place he knew where you could get fired after creating a $100M/year ARR business. That is only $25M/quarter which was only a .3% increase in revenue, so a loser right? But how many people would love to be in charge of a business generating $100M/yr in revenue? Lots!

The reality Google is missing is that there isn't another "search advertising" business but there might be 100 other smaller businesses that they could invent/run just as profitably. But it is hard to see that.

[1] Confronting Reality -- https://www.amazon.com/Confronting-Reality-Master-Model-Succ...

Heh. My first project at Google made roughly $100M/year. It was shut down by my department (Search) after 3 years because it "didn't move the needle", resurrected by Ads for another couple years because it apparently moved the needle enough to make it worthwhile for them, then shut down for good. I remember joking "Well, could I buy it off you if you don't want it? I'd love to have a $100M business", but it was a little too integrated with Google's systems & salesforce to make that feasible.

Too bad they don't have Amazon's foresight to platformize their systems and salesforce.

That is a very salient observation. Of course if they did that they would lose people who would step out, start their own business and just rent Google's infrastructure, but as AWS has shown that could become a meaningful part of their annual return anyway.

I doubt it was lack of vision. For a long time, one of Google's most important competitive edges was it's efficient infrastructure. With AWS coming in and Google moving to become an AI company, data probably became a more serious competitive advantage and they started Google Cloud Project

$100M in net revenue? What was the cost to start, run and maintain this project?

3 engineers. I (and a teammate) carried a pager for about 6 months but then Search SRE took over ops; it shared backends with other search systems and was primarily a frontend innovation so the marginal cost was minimal. There was some ongoing AdSales cost for it - basically we built a tool to visualize related queries for your search [1] and then AdSales got a hold of it and said "Woah, we can show this to clients and tell them 'These are all the other queries you should be advertising on'", and then the clients spent a whole lot more money advertising on a whole lot more queries.

[1] https://www.ducttapemarketing.com/using-google-wonder-wheel-...

Might be worth pursuing that business anyway!

I thought Lauren does a good job here of distinguishing between the people who work at a company, and the emergent behavior of a company based on profit motive or other incentives.

Throughout the article, is the explicitly stated assumption that Google's enemies/critics are evil. Google has plenty of good critics with good criticisms. That's precisely the kind of substrate of viewpoint, in which Google is somehow anointed, which Lauren forwards and which underlies the very Google hubris she decries.

Lauren is actually a "he". (I met him once, probably in 1981.)

>The reality Google is missing is that there isn't another "search advertising" business but there might be 100 other smaller businesses that they could invent/run just as profitably. But it is hard to see that.

i don't think Google missing it, i think they're running a similar model to VC - better hit another one or a couple of 100B+ Unicorns than a 100 of 100M small businesses.

>Google was the only place he knew where you could get fired after creating a $100M/year ARR business. That is only $25M/quarter which was only a .3% increase in revenue, so a loser right?

the same like VC do - no signs of horn in 2-3 years, just cut the "losses" (i.e. take your 2-4x investment growth) and move on.

"i think they're running a similar model to VC - better hit another one or a couple of 100B+ Unicorns than a 100 of 100M small businesses."

It occurs to me that the VC model itself makes a certain set of assumptions about where we are in the economic cycle. It only works if a.) there are industries that can be reinvented by the application of technology in a way that disrupts all the existing firms and b.) those firms are too blind, too set in their ways, or too structurally rigid to adapt that technology.

This has been the case from the 1980s onwards, but was not the case from roughly 1920-1980. At some point we're going to hit the end of the current cycle, and then any firm based upon that assumption is just going to die through bad bets. I don't think we're there yet, but it's interesting to think about the assumptions underlying the model.

The VC model exists largely because these people max out on investing in traditional instruments. Beyond that they have to look at some thing like a VC business.

In his investment class Martin Shkreli talked about this topic in specific. Its just that after a while you realize you can't squeeze much juice out of a fruit anymore, no matter hard you try. At that point, your only options are acquiring good businesses or starting investing into new ones.

I think the reason why your $100M project was shut down is may be they realized if they wanted wanted make $100M out of something they might as well buy a bond, it makes no sense to run a people team, pay them and manage them all for their scale of profits.

Either way it also looks dripping with hubris if your shutting opportunities that could put $100M on the table with little effort.

> I thought Lauren does a good job here of distinguishing between the people who work at a company, and the emergent behavior of a company based on profit motive or other incentives.

I have always found a company to be a mirror of its CEO's personality. Think of Apple under Steve Jobs, Microsoft under Satya Nadella, and Uber under Travis Kalanick. A sense of integrity - or a lack of it - plays a huge role in how we feel about the company.

Google's had a lot of CEO's. Who are we talking about ? Larry Page, Eric Schmidt or now Sundar Pichai ?

Google under Eric Schmidt (from 2001 to 2015) was the one people learnt to love.

This might explain why Apple hasn't released any new Mac Minis recently.

When you compare a new initiative with established business the dollar values doesn't matter. If it's inline with the company's core mission it's worth doing even if it makes significant loss. But when the team could be working on something closer to the core mission, or much higher revenue potential projects it make sense to cut a $100M business.

Or maybe they should just start paying dividends.

Makes me think of Peter Thiel's comments here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Q26XIKtwXQ

Peter is pretty much on the money here. Google's biggest (search engine) threat is Facebook if FB can get their act together. Second is Amazon since they can be a one stop shop. But his comment came before the AI 2nd revolution hit mainstream which has changed R&D at all of the tech companies. Google does have some problems though, it can't go to far down the DoD, Darpa route since Googlers don't want to work with the military (as the article describes) and then it may miss out on innovation in China by not having a Chinese presence and offices in China to get at that talent. That ship may have sailed though as Alibaba and Baidu are giant. What Google really needs to do is unleash its human capital.

Man I'd like to hear more of that.

You have described the classic Innovators Dilemma [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Innovator%27s_Dilemma

Also there are possibly other search ads scale businesses inside google, like youtube ads, display ads, mobile ads, play, cloud, docs.. We just don't know what is ARR for search ads.

>>One of the PMs I knew at Google told me (as he was leaving) that Google was the only place he knew where you could get fired after creating a $100M/year ARR business.

I wonder how much of that is because the organization hierarchies and inner machinations of the people structures are opaque to people like Larry Page and Sergey Brin at their level.

Sure these people could form a Google X and search for the next $100 billion businesses.

But if you have $100M/yr opportunity products coming up all over the company and you don't even bother to look at them. You are already losing plenty of potential $10Bn/yr opportunities. It should be perfectly possible for these people to chase both moonshot and sky shot opportunities.

Would you want to run a $100MM/yr business that costs $120MM/yr to run?

Potentially. What's it doing and what's its value to the world and the corporation it exists within?

What if you have a product that brings a great deal of value to many people, but for various reasons you can't collect much revenue on it. You could be operating at a loss, but still producing great value. In that case, if there were a way to cover that $20MM/year gap (corporation sinks profits from other divisions into it, for instance) it could be worthwhile.

Or perhaps that business that's losing money brings in customers who go to the other divisions and make them profitable. That is, its return is indirect and hard to measure (though not necessarily hard to verify).

Sure if it had metrics VCs like it could easily be a Unicorn

There are a lot of startups that are in worse shape than that and hope to be profitable someday.

I think idea that this blog post is conveying is overrated. People said the same thing about Microsoft under Ballmer. Then he left. Nadella came in and continued many of the things that he did, and their stock price has soared. For Apple the opposite happened - their profits and stock price have soared, yet Tim Cook can't catch a break. Every little error leads to a chorus of "It wouldn't have been like this if Steve was around". Perception isn't everything. In my humble opinion, Sundar Pichai must go. Ballmer said it best - "I am a pattern"[0]. I think Pichai has been a great manager but he, from the outside, doesn't seem to be a great leader. If he steps down, the new person gets leeway to change some things and get some social capital.


edit: fixed language

Cook’s successes have been....AirPods and the iPhone X?

Sure, Apple has made tons of cash but their products have been lackluster. The Mac Pro bombed, keyboardgate, the stagnated phone development...

They haven’t been lackluster by objective measures. They still sell a lot with high profit margins.

Apple sells privacy, iPhones and then the content services around them. That's a powerful combination. AR/VR are the obvious next generation things we need to get right as is the AI.

> the politically-motivated hands of the lying Google haters, who have already been screaming for Google’s blood

Yikes. Maybe tone down the invective a bit? It’s possible to think Google something other than a force for unalloyed good without being “politically motivated”, a “lying hater”, or consumed by blood-lust.

Yeah, caught that bit of gatekeeping: "I, Poobah of Tech, am here to say that Google might suck. However, all of the people who have said before me that Google might suck, well, they suck."

As for Google, considering everything that's come out in the last year, they've gone from a company I always wanted to work at to a company I cannot imagine working at.

As for Google, considering everything that's come out in the last year, they've gone from a company I always wanted to work at to a company I cannot imagine working at.

I can well imagine what it would be like, and I would be frightened to work there.

The contrarian in me says now is probably a great time to work at Google. They are basically printing money at this point. Disillusioned kool-aid drinkers are making their way for the exits, which means there are probably ample opportunities for personal growth. Their mission to "organize the world's information" is still relevant. And there's no way it can be as bad as recent media coverage makes it seem... just don't get caught up in any culture wars and you should be golden.

That last caveat is basically the whole thing. Reading Exhibit B (from the Damore suit), it's apparent that a number of Googlers feel it's their brief to ruin your life if they discover that you don't think the way they do.

It's like selling an uncovered call. It'll probably be okay, but you can see upfront that the possible downside is almost unlimited.

I've never even heard of a professional environment that bad.

MSFT was caught buying services of some PR company to make negative waves about Google. The "general hackers" discontent is pretty recent. We can't really tell who is paid to talk bad about Google and who does really mean it due to ethical concerns, so she has a point.

"they give the EU additional excuses to try fine Google billions extra to enrich EU coffers"plus the part where they say that Google is great at privacy makes me think the author is very much out of touch with reality.

I've seen it with Google employees here on HN too: they're so invested in everything Google that they can't understand why anyone would have an issue with their endless data collection and surveillance of the entire planet. Any lingering doubts are probably buried when they think that all thing considered they do have a very cushy life at the company.

Were there less/smaller blunders of Google, those hired guns would shoot air at nothing. That is, it's Google's fuckups that counts, not how many people scream about it on HN. (In general it matters, but that's politics.)

But what if YOU were paid by Google to make that comment?

I am just trying to be objective; the next statement would tell you I was not paid - except for GMail and a bit of Chrome for dev work I am now completely Google-less, moved over to DDG, ProtonMail and my phones are running iOS and Sailfish OS. Exceptions are TensorFlow, Keras and Kubernetes.

Can't imagine why I shouldn't give a multibillion-dollar company whose employees (well, former employee in this case) refer to critics as "evil haters" the benefit of the doubt.

I thought his intention was to refer specifically to the group of haters who are lying. There are many people in that group who have strong incentives to do so.

That’s to differentiate them from the larger but separate groups of liars, and of google haters, who he wasn’t referring to.

TBH Google's decision to drive their left leaning politics turned my opinion of them.....this is not based on lies, but actually seeing what they've done (some first hand). They would have been well served to have stayed non-political because administrations etc. change. Cozying up to China while snubbing US government contracts also doesn't help their cause in the US.

From a practical level I've watched their hiring standards slip and become political vs "hiring the best" that allowed them to become successful. Internally there has been a politically motivated purge that has driven some very talented individuals out. I've also seen some hires that they rightfully would not have touched a few years ago....success breeds failure.

Wow, I got the opposite view of them while observing the same occurrences. Back when US federal law prohibited the recognition of gay marriage I would be taxed much more than a straight person. Google had a policy of paying gay employees who suffered from this discrimination the difference in pay. Sure, the policy is "left leaning" but it gives me the impression that Google is the absolute best place to work as a talented person no matter what minority I belong to.

As for the military contracts and China expansion I have reservations but I would hardly call those "left leaning."

>Today’s belated announcement of a security breach related to Google+,

People keep calling it a breach, but I thought it was merely an unexploited vulnerability? I may have missed it, but did it come out that there was a breach as well?

> merely an unexploited vulnerability

The footnote there is, unexploited in the last 2 weeks they had logs for. They have no way of knowing if it was exploited earlier than that.

They would also have logs of any further attempts to exploit the vulnerability after it was found. I haven't seen anyone mention that. Although it's still no definitive proof, it can be useful corroborating evidence. (I left Google years ago, so I have no insider knowledge about the issue.)

A source would be great if there is one.

Straight from their announcement https://www.blog.google/technology/safety-security/project-s...

> We made Google+ with privacy in mind and therefore keep this API’s log data for only two weeks. That means we cannot confirm which users were impacted by this bug. However, we ran a detailed analysis over the two weeks prior to patching the bug, and from that analysis, the Profiles of up to 500,000 Google+ accounts were potentially affected. Our analysis showed that up to 438 applications may have used this API.

> We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused.

thank you

I don't know about "2 weeks" but it was clear from Google's announcement that they had no idea. I remember this, because it was posted on an HN thread where the poster claimed it was "unexploited" so I went in expecting that, and Google's own words made it clear they had no idea.

Google has WAY more than 2 weeks worth of logs. When I was there having 90 days of live logs was the norm with very few exceptions. Anything older wasn't "live" but pretty easily accessible if you can get the resources approved.

They don't tell if it was exploited, all they said was "we have no logs".

Google has done a great job of spinning this as "unexploited". The reality of it is (if you take them at their word and believe they only kept 2 weeks of logs "because privacy", which is suspicious for a company that thrives on data collection), they have no idea whether or not it was exploited.

He mentions DEC, but I'd go further and note that Google is making the same mistake Digital did with Alta Vista - namely, returning irrelevant search results because it thinks you really must be searching for Y even though you entered X. This gets especially annoying when one searches for a specific word and gets a page full of results that don't have it.

Getting rid of the +word search syntax in favor of quotation marks was also a bad move - it makes it much more tedious to edit your query when you're trying to tell Google "Hey, I'm really searching for that word."

It's the problem of maximizing gross acceptableness vs. accuracy. If there is a term that has 1,000 results but could be a misspelling of a term that returns 100,000 results, Google will always go with mob rule. It's like when the bean counters take over and shave a nickel here, save a penny there, until everyone leaves because your product has become garbage. Optimizing for search happiness sounds good on paper but winning on edge cases SHOULD be Google's strength - instead, it is their biggest weakness.

I wouldn't even mind the mob rule if Google still had a way to clarify your searches by default. Instead, they continue to assume more and more user intent and remove more and more options for clear user input.

That does not explain why Google ignores entire words. People misspell words, yes, but who accidentally enters random other words in addition to their search terms?

A lot of people actually. English has a lot of dialects, people have different styles of communication, and Google tries to search across all that. It tries to guess at intent and match that to their index.

Does this help? I have no idea, and at least nowadays it offers to include that word explicitly with one click.

Fun little hidden feature that implies they're aware of this: On the results page, under search tools, is an "All Results" dropdown you can change to "Verbatim" to get what you actually want.

I used to work as a translator and I'd often google some phrases wrapping them in quotes to see how often and what contexts they occurred in. I still do sometimes while writing letters in English. But that's become much harder now because now Google is too "smart" and can guess that I'm really interested in the query from a linguistic point of view and almost always the first page of results is some linguistic forums and stuff like that, while I just want real-world examples, not posts from all sorts of linguistic equivalents of StackOverflow.

There's an ngram search through Google Books, that might help you with this.

Getting rid of the +word search syntax in favor of quotation marks was also a bad move

I also loved the +word feature. But didn't they want the '+' for something to do with Google+? That's dead so maybe they can release '+' back to the search people?

Actually they won't adopt +word again. As you say, more and more "irrelevant search results". Thankfully the "verbatim" option helps me. I don't know how normal people get verbatim results, that left-hand column only appears for me because I don't allow JavaScript. Otherwise the option is missing!?

> Actually they won't adopt +word again. As you say, more and more "irrelevant search results". Thankfully the "verbatim" option helps me. I don't know how normal people get verbatim results, that left-hand column only appears for me because I don't allow JavaScript. Otherwise the option is missing!?

It's under Tools > All Results > Verbatim, or `tbs=li:1` in the url.

I suspect that Google search has become even more functional while it appears less. Often now I'll search for an exact phrase and use quote marks but it will return results that only contain parts of the phrase. I think there is still a way to have the function of quote marks or the "+" but it's hidden behind some menus or other commands.

I'm shocked they don't have a filter for that. If you input an obscure term with no common misspellings it should be the main key used. Instead they just omit it entirely. They do seem introspective enough to include a "must include this word" link in the results.

Let's not forget, returning the polar opposite of what you are searching for. I'm an adult, let me search for what I want!

"...legions of politically-motivated Google haters are using to further evil agendas."

"...played directly into the politically-motivated hands of the lying Google haters, who have already been screaming for Google’s blood and for its executives to be figuratively drawn and quartered..."

"...giving the evil haters even more ammunition to use for false accusations of political user censorship, they give the EU additional excuses to try fine Google billions extra to enrich EU coffers, and they give massive energy to the forces who want to break up Google into smaller units to be micromanaged for political gain by politicians and those politicians’ minions and toadies..."


It's almost like listening to a captive cult member decry the "evil that lies outside of these walls". The idea that people who criticize an advertising/surveillance corporation worth several hundred billion dollars are "evil" is delusional.

I always knew the kool-aid was potent at Google, but not that potent.

I have pretty low expectations of HN in general, but seeing this on the front page is still kind of confusing to me.

Companies exist to make money, and by that metric Google is a long, long way from dying, as the author admits: "It is indeed possible, even likely, that Google can continue onward without the kinds of changes that I and other Google supporters have advocated over the years, and still make bushels of money"

Google's revenue today is six times as large as it was a decade ago. And I expect its revenue in a decade to be at least 3 times as large as it is today. The reason is that many of the causes of past growth will continue for the foreseeable future:

1. The people who are connected to the internet will continue to become richer - in particular booming poor countries like India and Indonesia

2. The amount of time people spend on the internet will continue to grow

3. The amount of advertising Google can show people per hour will continue to grow. For example, Google can show many more ads on YouTube and still be less saturated than the old network TV model. Another example: The Economist app currently shows untargeted ads copied from their print magazine - but in 10 years these ads will probably come from Google.

4. Google can continue to improve its algorithm for placing of ads. Google knows so much about me yet I'm amazed how stupidly untargeted its ads sometimes are. Eg. if my photo stream doesn't include pictures of cats, don't show me ads for cat food!

5. Google can continue to collect more personal data. Right now it doesn't know when I last purchased toothpaste, but it might in 10 years from now.

6. The number of people connected to the internet will continue to grow (although of course at a slower rate than in the past)

[Note: I am a Google shareholder]

Even with recent criticisms there're really no sign that Google's business is anywhere close to dying (or shrunk at all). Their core products, the search engine, Google Map, Youtube, etc. are still best of its kind and no where close to be replaced. Yes some people are pissed off, but Google's user base is way beyond the tiny community that cares about HN, and many would continue to love Google's products.

I've thought this for awhile, and have seen other articles about it.

While Amazon and Microsoft seem to be executing well on their respective visions, Google, Apple, and Facebook all seem asleep at the wheel. Nothing gamechanging from any of them, lots of scandals and user complaints piling up.

There's nothing unusual about it. Big companies usually go this route. It is frankly amazing when they don't.

Google is heavily investing in cloud; in 2015 they embarked on a sizable shift, where they decided it was worth using their considerable head starts in databases and machine learning.

They open-sourced Kubernetes and Tensorflow that year, both with a view toward cannibalizing AWS's lead. They released Apache Beam the following year, but it hasn't caught on the same way.

At this point, Kubernetes is winning everywhere, so why not use Google's infrastructure for it? , and tensorflow has enough adoption that you might go to Google Cloud just because they integrate so tightly with it.

More recently, Google purchased Kaggle, and has turned Jupyter notebooks into Colab, as well as hiring Jake VanDerPlas out of UW. They're trying to turn GCP as the easy, first choice solution for running and versioning your darn notebooks. But if you're already there, why not use BigTable to pull the data INTO the notebooks...?

There are definitely tone-deaf steps they're taking, but Google is building serious advantages into their cloud offerings.

Not to mention Firebase and everything that goes with it

I frankly don't see the difference; all of them seem pretty similar to me, with large bets on unproven tech (hololens, waymo), trying to cash in on enterprise and developers (Office 365+Azure, GSuite+GCloud).

And saying that MS is executing well when just three days ago they had to pull a Windows update due a data loss bug that passed their QA seems funny.

Microsoft is putting out compelling products and has the #2 cloud platform and fastest growing cloud platform. They have lots of developer momentum with VS Code, Typescript, .NET Core, etc. Their recent acquisitions make sense, mostly, unlike some of their rivals.

I don't like either Amazon or Microsoft, but from a business angle they are both impressive. They are both at risk of going off the rails at any point, but I have much more respect for Bezos and Nadella than anyone at Facebook, Google, or Apple.

Google + Facebook both grew out of singular products that kept making lots of money without requiring further deep investment -- just scaling, maintenence, and filling in feature gaps. They grew to keep investors happy about them having only one cash cow. They don't know how to do that.

I'd prefer Google stay its old self and they make Alphabet the primary growth vehicle. But people need to show impact to get promoted, so you can't very well leave a good product alone. So now they have the mess of an organization they have now.

The management angle from the article is interesting. Google originally didn't want management and there has always been a "necessary evil" attitude towards it there. So management was given an unexpected free pass on being evil. They weren't required to Googley and got hired from other places that were distinctly not so (e.g., IBM).

Apple is the most valuable company in history and the new focus on privacy is going to win them even more loyalty.

> the new focus on privacy is going to win them even more loyalty.

This seems to be a common talking point, but I'm not convinced it is a real driver outside of a small niche of within the niche of software people. Privacy is not something regular people really are aware of or give a damn about.

The biggest driver towards getting an iPhone that I see is shutting up friends who whine because you're a "green person" in their iMessage.

Apple have an edge over its competitors because they can afford to go full-on tinfoil with privacy; it wouldn’t put a dent in their business model.

And while laypeople today care little about privacy, Apple can bring it into the collective consciousness. All it takes is a good meme (in the original Dawkins sense, not in the image-macro sense). A meme that tells people: “only the poor can’t afford privacy”. If they can get this into people’s heads then they’ll demand privacy, because nobody likes feeling poor.

That causality assertion is hard to prove... Maybe true for you, may or may not be true generally.

I would have agreed with you about apathy in the general population, but The Information had an interesting data point a week ago:

"According to a Pew Research Center study, 26% of Facebook users in the U.S. have deleted the app entirely and 74% have adjusted their privacy settings in the past 12 months. User growth on Facebook is slowing."

So there is hope after all.

The privacy aspect is what has, and will continue to be why the iphone is the preferred phone for businesses and governments that give their employees a smartphone.

This was a big factor as to why blackberry's phone business didn't die sooner than it did.

> The biggest driver towards getting an iPhone that I see is shutting up friends who whine because you're a "green person" in their iMessage.

Whatsapp is being used significantly more in Europe than SMS. I can't remember the last time I got an iMessage/SMS except 2FA prompts.

Their products aren't compelling anymore -- they're living off the momentum of prior greatness. As soon as someone else has a compelling, exclusive phone feature, Apple's likely to collapse. A lot (LOT) of their product demand is from fickle customers that would leave them quite easily. There's no lock in, and there's no reason to be loyal -- it's a fashion brand.

As for privacy, I think you'd have to show that those customers don't have facebook accounts to take that seriously.

> Their products aren't compelling anymore -- they're living off the momentum of prior greatness.

Not compelling relative to what? People have been saying this about Apple with respect to the original iPhone X (which sold a very large amount), the Apple Watch, and even the iPad which they managed to bring sales back up as the rest of the tablet industry floundered.

> As soon as someone else has a compelling, exclusive phone feature, Apple's likely to collapse.

Your biases show through when you talk about a company with the resources of Apple collapsing because of one exclusive phone feature. In reality, Apple's biggest challenge is competing against last years iPhone.

> There's no lock in, and there's no reason to be loyal -- it's a fashion brand.

Again, your biases. For many people iOS is the easiest mobile OS to use. It has it's quirks, but for many people it just works.

> Not compelling relative to what?

To desktops and laptops that offer more RAM/CPU/GPU per buck while costing much less.

> For many people iOS is the easiest mobile OS to use.

If they can afford it. Not so easy when earning 500 euros or less per month.

> To desktops and laptops that offer more RAM/CPU/GPU per buck while costing much less.

This is not why people buy Macs, and it hasn't been in a long time. If anything, Macs are closer to giving performance/$ than they usually ever have.

People by Macs for aesthetic and usability. The vast majority of the population does not care "how many gigahertz their RAM has", and Mac sales reflect this.

There are PCs that also have similar aesthetics, while costing 500-1000 euros less.

As for the sales, not when you compare Mac against all other vendors worldwide.

Naturally it is nicer to just compare Apple against single OEMs.

I lived in Latvia for one year. Median salary - 370. Lots of people with iPhones. Not her latests iPhones but lots of people. Funny thing - there was a great divide - the biggest amount of dumbphones I’ve ever seen since iPhone introduction and yet, lot and lots of iPhones.

It would be interesting to correlate if they were new or 2nd hand, alongside the owner's income.

I'm not sure about Europe, but in Australia fewer people own iPhones outright - it's normally something like $99/month with calls and data.

Many countries go with pre-paid handsets.

Then Android security is even more critical... But that's another tangent.

My point about the iPhone is that the majority of it's customer base buy iPhones to replace existing, working iPhones without much motivation in new features. There's a substantial social pressure to stay on the newest phone.

What features justify replacing a 2 yr old phone with a new one? For $800-$1000?

So far they have been pretty good at making people want to replace their existing iPhone with a new iPhone. I'm using an iPhone 7, and while I won't buy a new phone any time soon because my current one still works, the 120Hz oled screen is attractive (and the design makes my current phone look ancient with its huge chins on the top and bottom), and the better camera would be nice to have.

Yeah they have. Really well. But it's left them quite vulnerable to a trend-sensitive audience that may leave them just as quickly.

There is lock in to the wider ecosystem beyond a particular phone feature, eg. iMessage, iTunes, HomePod, etc.

Plus, apple has a huge lead in CPU and GPU performance and this is only accelerating, paving the way for future potential phone features imo.

Yes, their smartphones and Macbooks are not innovating at the pace that they used to. But so aren't Google's, Microsoft's, Samsung's and all other PC/Smartphone company's.

The reason for that is that PCs and smartphones are plateauing as a computing platform.

I'm super curious to see what Apple's game for VR and AR headsets will be. Currently, Oculus/FB is leading the race there.

Well, at least I can plug an external GPU into latest MacBook Pro. Can’t do it with latest Surface - not T3 ports.

Maybe some time will come where they go from fashion-only-brand to consumer and/or budget brand? Sure it could hurt their image, but if they keep going into that privacy direction it could possibly give them A LOT more customers, who just can't (or don't want to) afford apple right now.

If their fat margins collapse, so does their market cap.

innovate or die.. it's an honest way to go

There is heavy lock-in with Apple, moreso than any other company I can think of. But for sure it is a fashion brand.

But in order to be fashionable, they need to have compelling designs and technology. They do not anymore.

Their main new product seems to be those stupid AirPods, and I don't think you can carry a trillion dollar company on that. Everything else is just a minor tweak on an existing product.

I don't know about that. You have some connectors and adapters, but most people's investments are online instead of in long lived hardware. Maybe some Mac apps? But most users are primarily on Safari and iTunes. Hardly locked in?

Apple isn't "the most valuable company in history" it just has the highest market cap of a public company in the USA right now.

What is the most valuable company in history? What company in the world has a higher market value than Apple?

The hard part is that nominally Apple is the most valuable, because it has the highest market value, but of course that doesn't take into consideration inflation. I think the general consensus is that the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was the most valuable. Excuse the below clickbait article, but it was the first result when I searched: https://dutchreview.com/culture/history/how-rich-was-the-dut...

But like the parent comment said, thats market cap, not value. Value isn’t market cap because the market is irrational and VOC is a perfect example of that.

Saudi Aramco is somewhere in the 1.2-2T area: https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2018-04-13/saudi-a...

Thats not a publicly traded company though right? My point being “it just has the highest market cap of a public company in the USA right now” is misleading.

Outside of US and other first world countries they are not.

Not everyone across the globe has salaries to pay for privacy features.

> Apple is the most valuable company in history

That's a belief.

> the new focus on privacy

I see a trend here.

While you've been asleep in bed at home, Apple have built an insane services business and scaled the iPhone to heights no one could have predicted. Not only that but they quietly made the Apple Watch and AirPods a force of culture, made huge strides with their iPad lineup and have nailed the execution on all three which only feeds value back into the overall Apple ecosystem.

It's no longer about any single product anymore, though the iPhone still is the 800 pound Gorilla of the product lineup and the obvious lynchpin tying everything together. But there is also Apple Music, iCloud, The App Store, Apple Pay and huge investments into AR, ML, Privacy, and a whole host of developer APIs.

You're missing the forest for the trees of why Apple is able to make such _deep_ inroads into peoples lives and get them to pay top dollar for it at scale (50mm iPhones are made and shipped every quarter).

And don't forget all the strides they've made in retail with their Apple Stores. Don't forget the insane chips their chip design team has been pumping out every year. Don't forget their acquisition of Beats and going head to head with Spotify. It's easy to take all this progress for granted. As a beloved consumer business, they're firing on all cylinders as far as I'm concerned. They'll make mistakes from time to fine and that's ok (iOS 11, AirPower, Mac Pro) - but you've got to ignore quite a lot of progress to make such a strong claim that they're asleep at the wheel - they are decidedly not asleep at the wheel by any measure.

I use to be an ardent supporter of Google. As soon as I installed a new browser or a got a new computer I would set Google as my home page without much thought. Then over the years they've lost my trust little by little.

I never really tried using Chrome unless I absolutely had to because I believe in the separation of services and because I started losing my trust in Google. I didn't want to be tracked. I don't have nothing to hide, but I still appreciate my right to privacy. I thought I was already sharing enough with my Google searches and YouTube usage.

I do continue to use gmail, but I've been keeping an eye open for reputable alternatives with security that matches that of Google, since it has that going for itself. I still haven't really found an alternative... yet, at least not one that is convincing enough to make the switch.

Just recently I changed the default search engine on all my devices to be DuckDuckGo as they seem to be a much better alternative when it comes to privacy.

It's pretty sad that greed has consumed Google and all they care is about maximizing profits instead of balancing profit and user experience/privacy. I really wish they can be that company they used to be, until then I'll keep my eyes open.

These days I pretty much view Google through the same lens as Microsoft they have eroded basically all my goodwill. I use their products begrudgingly and view everything they announce with a healthy cloud of suspicion.

Google is crap until you set your default search engine on your mobile and desktop to something non-google. Bing is a good example. It looks almost exactly the same as Google and you probably won’t even realize it.

Until you actually use it for a few weeks. And go like “wait a minute why am I not seeing this so and so result.. I remember Googling this exact search term a few weeks back and.. oh wait..” or you click on the News tab in the search results and it, well, sucks.

I really want to move off Google but they are just so. damn. good. right now it’s actually scary. It feels almost like search is a “winner takes all” game. Even if the runner up is really good, it’s still not good enough.

It's interesting how in tech people talk about such specific cultural issues as though they're inexorably related to outcomes. Sometimes it is, more often it's not. 'Culture' is always a lynchpin of success, but Google has classical company 'good culture' in droves. The things mentioned in the article aren't as important as we might instinctively think.

Google is a de-facto monopoly on search (ok, that's debatable, but there's no debate they 'own it' for now) with massive moats like Chrome and Android, vast datacentres, literal ownership of the brand i.e. 'to Google' is a colloquial verb in many languages.

They are going nowhere - not for a very long time.

They are 'dying' about as much as MS is dying ... meaning they are not really, they're just losing their lustre to 'us' types.

The only way Google will hurt, is the same way MS has hurt - meaning a fundamental shift in users behaviour or market architecture. MS started to hurt when the world went to the internet, and went mobile. That hurt their OS and Office solutions somewhat, but they've adapted and in $$$ terms, they're just fine. So Google will hurt when people stop searching (!) meaning, not anytime soon. Now - the change to mobile which is partly dominated by Apps presents a pretty big threat, but they seem to be managing it. That's the 'kind of change' that will hurt them.

Facebook on the other hands, has some existential trouble, but even they will likely be ok.

Twitter has a hardcore userbase in the press etc. and might wane, but likely aren't going anywhere for a while.

Snapchat ... could be in trouble.

Google is maturing into 'regular company' phase. They still have amazing momentum, massive cash, 'everyone' wants to work there, it's still a solid resume placeholder, they have talented Engineers - and the culture as far as doing stuff still works.

FYI - they were never good at UI, and their products have always been a little bit of a gaggle.

But search, their ads, maps, chrome, android, youtube ... those are formidable assets.

So yes, the 'Do No Evil' Google is gone, and we're now into the next phase.

They could possibly be overvalued as are many tech stocks, but they're going to be around for a very long while.

Death of Google is exaggerated. Patient is more likely alive than dead.

He means the spirit of Google is dead, not the company itself:

> It is indeed possible, even likely, that Google can continue onward without the kinds of changes that I and other Google supporters have advocated over the years, and still make bushels of money.

> But it won’t be the same Google. It will have become the “conventional company” kind of Google, not the firm of which so many Googlers are so rightly proud, and that so many users around the globe depend upon throughout their days.

> The Google that we’ve known will be dead

I suspect that "spirit of Google" probably means different things to different people. To declare Google "dead" just because he doesn't like some of its recent decisions seems awfully self-centered.

"Google is changing" would be more accurate. And of course it is - as every living entity does in 20 years. Have you changed at all in the past 20 years? Would you describe yourself as "dead" because of it?

I don't think Google is dying. Sony is probably dying. IBM probably too. Google is in its "productivity plateau" which is not a bad thing. It's just not the Google we used to know, the one where "don't be evil" meant something and that could make radically new, awesome things. Now it's just another powerful, profit-oriented corporation.

>> they give the EU additional excuses to try fine Google billions extra to enrich EU coffers

From wikipedia:

The European Union provides more foreign aid than any other economic union.[20] Covering 7.3% of the world population,[21] the EU in 2017 generated a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of 19.670 trillion US dollars, constituting approximately 24.6% of global nominal GDP[22] and 16.5% when measured in terms of purchasing power parity.[23] Additionally, all 28 EU countries have a very high Human Development Index, according to the United Nations Development Programme.

The EU is one of the most prosperous, more wealthy regions of the world with some of the most robust legislation to protect citizens' rights, including consumer rights. Arguing that it's going after Google's (and Facebook's, etc) violations of its users' privacy is meant to "fill its coffers" is just clueless.

Facebook is already "Mad Men". Google is getting there.

I still believe that Google leadership (maybe different for middle management) really has altruistic aspirations. Or rather, they think it's better they grab the power because they won't abuse it.

People complain about the monopolistic market power of Google. But in reality this is the only way big tech works at this time. You either grab the market or you'll loose out.

Anyway. Alphabet has to get cloud and Waymo right because long term they can't keep relying on advertising. In the end it's all about who gets to "real" AI first. Out of all the serious contenders I'd rather it be Alphabet than Amazon or worse, Baidu or Tencent. Because whoever gets that will probably dominate on whole new level. And that believe is really based around the ideals of the founders. Bezos for example seems much more like a typical business person with profit motivation. Page and Brin seem like they're just using the financial success of Alphabet as a means to an end. Because when you're that rich your world view and ideas for the future seem much more relevant than simply getting more money.

The author of this is clearly deeply emotionally invested in Google and desperately struggling with the cognitive dissonance of things not being as she idealised

He, not she.

What they definitely don't do well is corporate marketing and sales. I've been involved in two RFP's in which Google were invited, and in both instances Google lost out to other vendors. Two significant factors in their losing out were:

1) the naked arrogance and almost-disinterest of their people when in the room with the client's business people i.e. the people signing off on the vendor selection.

2) non-trivial examples of products that were terminated at short notice, in some cases with no clear migration path.

While 2 can be mitigated, it was 1 that stuck with me. I've been in the room with quite a few big vendors and Google were BY FAR the most arrogant. Quite appallingly so actually. SAP, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM - however crap some of their products and services may be (as are some of Google's), they at least have the common sales sense to make the prospective client feel listened to. In my experience, SAP were masters at this.

In case this dies: https://archive.fo/f4RHX

That is dead, for me. Sadly. Since the original is also dead.

Google is probably the best company in the world at copying successful products. They copied AWS, Amazon Echo, Evernote, the iPhone, and the list goes on. While maybe this isn't the most sexy strategy, the truth is that it CAN work when you have really amazing engineers. As the ad margins diminish, they will fiercely compete with everyone who seems to be doing something interesting. They are definitely fighting very aggressively on many fronts and are definitely not dying _yet_.

I think that award goes to Amazon - they are ripping off successful designs from their own marketplace; can't really beat that! Clueless 3rd party producers take all the risks; once Amazon notices them they are done within a few months as Amazon prepares their own "clones" under their own brands with prices nobody can beat.

I agree, Amazon is the better copycat. Remember when Google tried to buy Groupon for $6B and they declined? Both Amazon and Google subsequently created a Groupon clone, and the result: "Amazon Local"[1] was way better than "Google Offers"[2]... and interestingly both shut down in 2015.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Amazon_products_and_se...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Offers

You can't cite AT&T without mentioning that AT&T was broken up by the government. It's entirely possible that the government will come and split Alphabet into several companies. That has been suggested by several knowledgable tech pundit. But until that happens I just don't see Google faltering.

Love the joke at the beginning of the Internet & Empires talk where he says he was scared google would take him out with the hardwired mic.

The TL;DR of the article is "Google is dying because ..Google+". Funny argument. If that were the case, then Google would be on life support since Orkut, Wave and many other bets that just didn't pan out.

The fact of the matter is: Google is by far the best search engine. Google is the only company I'd actually trust to drive me around in a self driving car. Its cloud services are 2X more cost-effective compared to AWS. Google's Android is by far the most popular mobile OS in the US.

Google is growing like crazy both in terms of employees and in terms of stock. Who even cares about Google+ ?

Netcraft confirms it?

"The death of Intel..."

Ironically, the site is down.

What is it with the systematic anti-Google messaging these days ? The G+ breach, for example, did not justify the titles it was given.

Second ... Google is still the champion of good on the internet. There is no other way to put it. Google's ads, on Google itself and on youtube ... are still absolute champions of reasonableness compared to all of their competitors, even the ones that are sponsored, like Bing.

Google's moral stance ... still far exceeds the moral stances from their competitors on nearly all fronts. Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Baidu, ... there is just no comparison. Go to their pages and compare their attitudes towards, say, drug ads. Ad blockers. There is just no comparison.

And as for Amazon. I used to joke: 'Google's motto is "Do no evil". Amazon's motto is the other thing'.

And yes Google works with the military (well, not really, it was planning to at some point, but that's it), so does Microsoft with Bing. So does Yahoo's parent, Verizon. So does Amazon (hell Amazon's EC2 has a CIA-only cluster [1]). There is just no comparison.

Google's products have no comparison anywhere. From Google Docs, Gmail, Search, Youtube, Android, Blogger, Flights, Translate, Scholar, Cache, Chrome, Hangouts, Play, Tensorflow, Drive ... all are really great products compared to their competition. Really, really great products, most of which are entirely free as well. Ad-supported, but not obnoxiously so.

Does nobody other than me remember how other companies treated the web in the late 90s, early 2000s ? How about the cell phone maddness of the early 90s and how obnoxious the telcos were with their "sms services", "ringtones", ... and so forth. That's what you should compare to Google.

Is there anyone here that seriously doubts the web would be incredibly poorer if Google either relented on the above stances or disappears ? Because I don't. Google would be an incredible loss.

Google is growing like crazy ... and to some extent that probably means turning into a more normal company. But ... it's still VERY far removed from being one.

This post ... well the guy initially said this in 2006 ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGoSpmv9ZVc ). I mean at some point he'll be right of course, but 10 years seems a long time to wait.

Google is still a very early stage business. Look at it's valuation, and it's STILL not paying dividends ? I mean how much more proof do you need ? And Google is absurdly amazing: it makes almost 12% of it's market cap in profit.

What do you suppose would happen to Google's stock if it paid a 5% dividend ? We all know it could easily cover a 15% dividend for a century or two.

Google is here to stay.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEc6kVAXSs8&feature=youtu.be...


Whoever wrote this comes off like an angry 13 year old fanboy/girl with the "evil Google haters" BS.

It’s code for hating conservatives and anti-censorship people.

One of these days, a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Noogler MBA will shoot down the Takeaway service, because it will be clearly intolerable to have a moat-bridge that 0.01% of the users know it's there and serves to keep them calm.

(Then the volcano erupts and kills the dinos.)

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