Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Google Will Eat Itself (2005) (gwei.org)
180 points by viraptor 6 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 85 comments

As per Wikipedia[1]: >> Page and Brin remain co-founders, employees, board members, and controlling shareholders of Alphabet Inc.

Forbes article referenced by Wikipedia:[2] >> At Alphabet’s annual meeting in June, multiple shareholders criticized the fact that Page did not show up given that he and Brin have more than 50% of the company’s voting power, thanks to Alphabet’s multi-class stock structure. That structure will not change despite the management shift, the company said.

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

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/jilliandonfro/2019/12/03/larry-...

Is lack of attendance something that happens regularly?

Can control ever be wrested from majority voting power owners? Page and Brin, Zuckerberg, et al.?

At majority level no, because they control their shares. You can get the majority owner to sell. You can use social means to try to convince them to vote your way. You can get the bank to make bad terms on their financial activity. You can change the law. But in the end they have the power.

Note that some of the above list might include illegal /immoral acts. Depending on what you do you might find success.

Note that minority shareholders have some rights, though this varies by state of incorporation:

(PDF warning)


The market can influence it though. If the common stock loses 90% of the value due to the bad ownership structure, the founder’s wealth takes a hit and the employees will revolt or walk. If an outsider says “I will buy or invest in your company if you give up the special provisions” then money will talk.

The reason VCs don’t do this is the companies that become the 1000X outliers generally have the Super-shares.

That's "get the majority owner to sell" with extra steps.

They aren't immortal. At some point others will own the shares.

that's what Calico is for ;)

Page and Brin are not married to each other, as far as I know (which would make the shares their common property). You can always try to drive a wedge between them, have one of them turn on the other. With Zuckerberg, no, no chance.

They are both basically retired so there's not much to wedge about.

Although the parent is downvoted his point is valid , individually brin or page does not control 50 % of voting rights as zukerburg so alphabet has slightly better structure than Facebook

Interesting, the page info is out of date (if it was ever a real thing) from their "how much do we own"

   How much do "we" own Google

   Google Shares owned by GWEI: 819
   Amount of USD: 405.413,19
   Adsense-Clicks: 1.556.361
   Adsense-Page Impressions: 37.538
   Adsense-CTR: 2,41%

   Google Ownership Counter
     202.345.117 Years until GWEI fully owns Google.

   Google Share Price*
     Current Google Share Price : 495.01 USD
     Symbol: "GOOG"
Current price is over $1,400 so either they have over a million dollars of Google stock or this experiment has stopped?

There is an interesting question here of how much money is someone willing to let "sit there" which is growing slowly vs taking it and doing something with it.

This question comes up a lot when people find Bitcoin wallets that haven’t been touched in nearly a decade and have millions of dollars worth of the token associated to them. Is someone just being incredibly patient?

Or lost their wallet/password

I lost a Bitcoin wallet with ~50BTC back when it was priced at pennies. I was so young then. Oh well.

I think even more, since there was a stock split since then (share price is dated at 2005).

Wow, that would be over 2.5M$ so yeah. Interesting question indeed.

Some people will save and invest for 40 years until they retire.

Yes, but in my experience its a spectrum. From 'always save' to 'always spend.'

One of the more interesting times of my life so far was during the dot com bubble because I got to see a lot of people suddenly feel like they had more money than they ever imagined they would. I observed that the response was always uniquely personal. From a friend who bought 737 jet, only to file bankruptcy a year later, to folks who converted things to bonds and other assets and otherwise didn't change all that much, to people who lived a life of inconvenience only to have their family inherit a huge chunk of wealth when they died.

I suspect that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to predict how someone would actually respond.

Google cache version of Google Will Eat Itself: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:https%...

How far will the recursion go?

Unpopular opinion but this sounds like a half baked idea that will never amount to anything. Imagine some other equally silly parallels:

We generate money by selling iOS apps on a network of hidden developers. With this money we automatically buy Apple shares. We buy Apple via their own app store! Apple eats itself - but in the end "we" own it!

We generate money by selling goods on Amazon on a network of hidden affiliates. With our profits we automatically buy Amazon shares. We buy Amazon via their own marketplace! Amazon eats itself - but in the end "we" own it!

If your goal is to takeover a public company, just start a GoFundMe and let people donate money to you using any source they want. That is a far better way of achieving your goal, as compared to accepting "donations" only via AdSense. Though I suppose that is far less "hip", so it'll never catch on.

I read the OP as a tongue in cheek thought experiment (or satire), rather than a sincere effort to subvert, cripple and destroy a multibillion dollar company by running advertisements inside their platform.

As a result, I suspect that a "half-baked idea that will never amount to anything" was the author's intenion, and that your opinion probably is no more unpopular than those who doubt the chicken really wanted to get to the other side.

It's the kind of project that others do take seriously though. Like the self driving car that was "unable to escape a salt circle". The artist just parked the car and drew a circle around it. No effort was made to escape. Yet everyone reacted to it like "those engineers think they're so smart but they were tricked by a simple artist."

Based on everything I've read, it isn't an idle thought experiment at all. The artists are genuinely trying to take down Google. Check out the press links:


Reading more, it actually gets even worse. Apparently the artists were using a bunch of click bots to inflate their ad revenue, and they were boasting about gaming Google's anti-fraud systems to do so.

This reminds of the Spotify thread where posters were desperately failing to comprehend what it means for a musician to be an artist.

I'm not familiar with that thread. Care to elaborate?

I don't think it's intended to actually subvert Google. It's simply interesting.

It's one thing to speculate on taking over a company through unconventional means, but gradually chipping away at a company using the very thing that powers it is pretty interesting. It's hard to imagine doing that in 2005, even harder to imagine doing it now.

Doesn't help that online ads have a certain arcane quality about them. It's crazy that you can make money from a blog just by creating an AdSense account.

I think it needs an extra layer to make the plan more recursive.

"We use our AdSense revenue on a secret network of sites, 80% of which goes to buy stock in Google, the other 20% goes towards buy Gcp cloud compute that runs a network of bots that are browsing and clicking our ads this generating higher and higher ad revenues to reinvest"

Now if you could make that work, Google really would eat itself.

> gradually chipping away at a company using the very thing that powers it is pretty interesting. It's hard to imagine doing that in 2005, even harder to imagine doing it now.

Most tech companies have pretty good defences against that sort of thing. High gross margins mean when your involvement increases sales on their platform, their P&L figures look a lot better. High P/E ratios mean every time their P&L figures look unexpectedly better, the value of all the stock you haven't bought jumps by a lot more.

Then again if you yourself are a fashionable web company, maybe it's different, especially if you buy more shares in the platform company you're dependent on by selling off your own stock. Wonder how much of Facebook Zynga could have bought when it was supplying 19% of Facebook's revenue....

This is an art project.

I'm not sure it's so unpopular of an opinion; at least, it's shared by me.

Your "silly parallels" make great points. In the "app store" analogy, it's not "apple eating itself", it's developers donating time to create apps who's profits are then used to purchase Apple. So it's a network of volunteer developers eating Apple[0], not "Apple eating itself".

In the case of GWEI, it's a network of blogs who are hosting the adsense code that is funding this project. I'd imagine the equivalent is "the developers of whatever is on these sites[1]" are, again, donating their time to purchase shares of Google.

After all is done, you can apparently provide your contact information and a portion of the shares collected will be distributed to you[2] but that feature is disabled.

Change it up a little bit and instead give the shares to the creators of the sites gaming the system. Now the developers aren't donating their time, they're working in a business and investing all of the profits in the company that's paying them (in delusional hope that they'll somehow be able to purchase all of the shares).

That's a whole lot more boring, and adding "delusional/somehow" was likely unnecessary. At the end of the day it's people doing (probably a substantial amount of) work to earn money, it's not a magical "self-powering" system (as Google Will Eat Itself implies).

Either way, if the site creators' purpose (or one of their purposes) was to provoke thought as a functional "art piece", it's very cool (sincerely). If it was to make a point of some kind, it's lost on me. If it was to actually own all of Google, this way ... well, good luck with that?

[0] I didn't see that coming when I wrote that sentence; no pun intended.

[1] Guessing the "network of sites" is landing pages or similar bunk that starts around page 3 of any sufficiently rare search term. Perhaps it's written up on the site and I didn't dig far enough.

[2] I'm not terribly clear on how that is supposed to work.

I mean, AAPL is a bad example as it's not far from the truth [0], except it's the iPhone that's financing it not the App Store.



Conceptually, their aim was to use bots to generate traffic that results in ad revenue and then use that revenue to buy Google shares.

Google has technology that detects these patterns and flags them, and the ad revenue from flagged traffic is not paid.

It completely ignores the fact that a controlling interest in the company is held in shares that are, in the short-term, practically unbuyable (i.e. Larry and Sergey Brin aren't in the market to sell, period).

They don't need a GoFundMe considering they have made millions of dollars doing this "half baked idea".

It's clearly art lol

The artists behind this: → https://www.ubermorgen.com/

Their website doesn't seem to load well so WP: → https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubermorgen

They also caused quite a stir with a satirical website called Vote Auction where people could sell their votes to the highest bidder. → https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voteauction

> Deephorizon - Deepwater Horizon, Oil-painting on Ocean Canvas, 2008

That's the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. The "paintings" in the series are just the number of liters dumped in the spill:



Is this from 2005? Earlier discussion with an identical title / URL on HN (2019):



Does anyone remember when this was called the Slashdot effect? Being Slashdotted.

I sure do. As a small web hosting provider AtlantaWebHost.com it was one of our proudest moments when our FreeBSD servers handled the Slackdot effect without complaint. This was the Pentium 3 Dell PowerEdge server era.

I am no longer affiliated with AtlantaWebHost.com. The company was bought in 2005 and is still running as a boutique provider.

To this day, I'm still pretty handy with crimping ethernet cables :-) I mostly just do it in my own home and homes of friends if asked for help.

> the Slackdot effect

Supposing this was a typo, I'll trade you for one "rear window defrogger" and half a "string loaded door".

Hahaha! You caught me. Didn't even notice that slip :-)

Yes, but at that time serving the Slashdot amount of traffic was actually a challenge when using standard setup. (Not impossible, you just needed to put in extra effort) These days unless you're doing something silly you should be able to handle HN front page from a raspberry pi at home.

Wait, how? Using a commercial CDN?

No, connections better than ADSL can handle the traffic on network side and as long as you're not serving huge content. And as long as you're not doing per-user content generation, your throughout is a question of "how fast can nginx serve memory cache over network". The original RPi B can do 40 rps serving a 180kB file. RPi4 can do 4k rps (https://ibug.io/blog/2019/09/raspberry-pi-4-review-benchmark...).

So surviving front page on HN for a blog post served from home connection should be trivial unless you disabled caching somewhere.

To be honest, that's still what I call it.

For Daring Fireball, it's called Fireballed. Jon Gruber (used to?) keeps a cached version of linked pages to put up in case linking to them in a new post causes them to go down.

ah yes.. the days before all of the comments on a slashdot articles were racist/sexist/homophobic/basically 4chan.

> 202.345.117 Years until GWEI fully owns Google.

Clearly a European, because of the use of "." instead of "," for thousand separators.

It almost looked like an IPv4 address.

Well, neat idea. Only ~200M years to go. Good luck!

GWEI is one of the smartest web.art project i remember.

HN is in love with the old web lately!

And I understand, the "new" web is just a boring, commercial and "colorfully" grey. Also, too much JS.

I've actually been working on a browser extension this year that is directly inspired by the older web (early 00's for me) where you can chat with the other people on the same domain or page as you called Sidewalk.Chat


People seem to want to return to that sort of more innocent time since we just crossed 1K users.

"Disadvantaged, led - and 'seduced'"

Hey, it's been a while but... wait, there was something with bugging-ads... P-:

I love this bit:

Google Ownership Counter 202.345.117 Years until GWEI fully owns Google.

I'm surprised that someone hasn't set up some kind of autonomous Etherium blockchain controlled organization that buys miners to mine more Etherium to buy more miners...

A version of this that might actually work would involve investing dividends in additional ad serving properties.

> We generate money by serving Google text advertisments on a network of hidden Websites. With this money we automatically buy Google shares. We buy Google via their own advertisment! Google eats itself - but in the end "we" own it!

I thought websites paid Google to have their ads on their ads network. Isn't that how Google makes the bulk of its revenue?

Advertisers pay Google, which then pays publishers (people who own websites) to have the ads displayed on their sites. This display ad network was largely established when Google bought DoubleClick, and should not be confused with Google's search ads (where ads are displayed in Google's own search results).

But don't you need certain volume of visits for Google to want to display their ads in your site? What stops me from creating 300 random sites and putting google ads in them and just let them sit?

No minimum traffic, but they have a minimum payment threshold of $100. I have some legacy adsense ads, mostly on an old abandoned blog, which last sent me a payment three years ago. My current balance is $14.82. One of these days, I'll get around to doing what's necessary to resume serving the ads on a wiki I run which used to generate around $5–10 a month, but I'm in no rush.

Nothing. You get money per impression or click (not quite sure how it works exactly). I'm sure they have automated systems to detect "click fraud".

More info here: https://www.google.com/adsense/start/

>> We generate money by serving Google text advertisments on a network of hidden Websites. With this money we automatically buy Google shares. We buy Google via their own advertisment! Google eats itself - but in the end "we" own it!

> I thought websites paid Google to have their ads on their ads network. Isn't that how Google makes the bulk of its revenue?

Google will pay 3rd party websites to display ads from their network, which is probably what this site is using.

I believe that was one of their first ad products: text ads displayed on third party websites that targeted to website content. At the time, web advertising consisted of loud, garish banner ads, so Google's ads had a pretty good reputation.

This uses Adsense to show ads, the ads advertisers are paying Google to show.

My understanding is that they have a 'hidden' network of websites that display ads from Googles ad network (AdSense), and they use those earnings to buy GOOG.

I think you are forgetting that Google has to put the ads somewhere. Some websites do pay for ads but those go on other websites as well.

This part is not totally clear, but from my reading, the process works like this:

GWEI sends money to google, to have them runs text advertisements.

These advertisements will say "please send money to GWEI"

Some of this money will be used to buy additional advertisements. The rest of it will be used to buy GOOGL shares

EDIT: The above text is wrong. GWEI reference a "network of hidden websites", and I guess I don't really know what that means.

GWEI is not buying ads, they are are displaying ads.

This shit is not working, and I guess it never did.

Anyone else click subscribe?

Very confusing numbers:

> Amount of USD: 405.413,19

Is that ~$405 or ~$405413?

What about the hosting costs?

The "e" in your ecmascript username stands for "European".

The currency formatting you have a question about is European formatting.


Other countries use the comma as the decimal separator and periods as the thousands separator. It's just something you get used to eventually.

It's $405413. Using Spanish formatting I believe. (comma as a decimal point and the dot for thousands)

A lot of the world uses comma separators actually including basically all of Europe minus a few. The whole wikipedia article is kind of neat; never figured California would have a weird system for a while where decimal parts on signs were expressed as super scripts (eg 3^7 meant 3.7).


Superscript decimals are pretty common in the US for handwritten money amounts (like on checks or price tags) but outside that context it does seem weird!

Some examples of this on price tags:




On gas stations, the superscript is indicating tenths of a penny, rather than pennies.

That latter practice is not exclusive to the US. This sign is from Germany or Austria I believe (LKW is German):


Hmm never really thought of those as super scripts, maybe because they don't extend above the main digit?

That's true, but much fewer use the dot as the thousands separator. Very often it's a space instead.

As was pointed out last year, given stock growth and splits, if they actually bought and held that much stock, it's probably $2M+ by now.

If they actually held that much stock, it would probably be very tempting to just cash out as well.

It's the latter, many non-American countries flip the usage of the comma and the period symbols in numbers.

In some countries the decimal symbol is a comma. So, the latter.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact