When Today Is Not As Good As Yesterday: Two Google Signals

July 21, 2015

Two Google items snagged my attention. The first is the new that a Xoogler has returned to Googzilla’s nest. The story was “The Soul of Google’: What the Return of Omid Kordestani Says About the Mountain View Monolith.” I interpreted this to suggest that Google has been operating without “soul” for five years.

According to the write up:

A year ago last week, CEO Larry Page brought him back to the position he birthed at Google, installing him permanently in October. Kordestani had come back to a very different Google. Revenue growth, once soaring, had started to flatten, and Google had suffered some embarrassing product setbacks. Wall Street was drumming louder about wasted funds on so-called moon shot projects such as Project Loon — its Internet-giving balloons — and Glass. More critically, Google faced rising criticism that its bloated size and insular leadership was stifling its ability to innovate. It risked becoming Microsoft.

Google is not Microsoft. Microsoft has its own demons and a unique fingerprint. Microsoft generates revenue from several different product and service lines. Google has one source of revenue: online advertising. Big difference in my opinion. The monoculture thing can endanger bananas and the GOOG. Charm may not work when parasites chip away at a monoculture.

The second item was “Silicon Valley’s Biggest Companies Take Samsung’s Side in Apple Patent Fight.” When you cannot innovate, litigate. I heard that mantra a number of times before I retired to my rocking chair in rural Kentucky.

For me these two stories point to a significant challenge Google faces. The company is fresh from a Wall Street home run. But are Wall Street home runs a one in four play? Google is not batting 1000 in the diversification of revenue department. The idea that a number of big companies are ganging up on the much loved, though slightly off center Apple outfit strikes me as a sign of weakness, not strength. What MMA fighter sends a lawyer into the octagon.

The message of Thomas Wolfe’s novel written in the 1930s seems clear, no matter what that wild and crazy Dr. Ed Chapman told me and my classmates: There is hope when you return home.

I am not so sure. Home and a return home are two different things. The return occurs with a flock of legal eagles and a vastly different online landscape. Search is different too. Relevance is still on vacation.

Stephen E Arnold, July 21, 2015


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