Now Streaming in Real Time: Googzilla Lost in Space

August 22, 2023

Google Executive Turnover and Role Changes Come As the Company Searches for New Identity” presents an interesting thesis: Google lacks an identity. I want to make a reference to Catcher in the Rye, but that book may not be a touchstone for some today. I wanted to link this statement from the book to the CNBC article:

8 22 lost in space\

MidJourney does a good dinosaur lost in space. It only took three tries before I said, “Good enough.” The descent along a gradient continues.,

“I think that one of these days…you’re going to have to find out where you want to go. And then you’ve got to start going there. But immediately. You can’t afford to lose a minute. Not you.”

Let’s let the short essay explain the alleged identity crisis at the Google:

it’s also searching for its own identity in a pivotal moment in the company’s history. The company was caught flat-footed last fall when OpenAI launched its AI-powered chatbot ChatGPT, and suddenly found itself in a rare spot where its core search business was threatened. Industry observers wondered if users could simply get answers from an AI-powered chatbot, how long would they keep entering queries into a search engine? It was an ironic moment for the search giant, given that CEO Sundar Pichai had been talking up the company’s “AI-first” strategy since 2016, with little to show externally.

Imagine. Microsoft — the giant beacon of excellence in engineering and security — catching Google “flat-footed.” When elephants dance, some people leave the party.

The write up points out:

In June, Google execs admitted to employees that users are “still not quite happy” with the search experience, CNBC reported. Search boss Prabhakar Raghavan and engineering VP HJ Kim spent several minutes pledging to do a better job to employees while Pichai noted that it’s still the most trusted search engine.

Yes, trust. That’s an interesting word, particularly when used by a technology giant and alleged monopoly.

The article makes clear that Google operates like a government, a government of a large and mostly disorganized country with a single crop. I noted this passage:

“Like mice, they are trapped in a maze of approvals, launch processes, legal reviews, performance reviews, exec reviews, documents, meetings, bug reports, triage, OKRs, H1 plans followed by H2 plans, all-hands summits, and inevitable reorgs.”— former Google employee Praveen Seshadri

And this interesting observation:

Now, the company faces its biggest challenge yet, which falls on the shoulders of Pichai and the next guard — trying to recreate the magic of its early days along with delivering revenue while being under more pressure than ever.

Several observations:

  1. Google has problems
  2. Google derives the majority of its revenue from its walled garden online advertising house of mirrors
  3. The company’s approach evokes the Lost in Space comparison

Net net: How does a company operating as a country shift from a monoculture based on selling bananas to a more diversified economy? The story is unfolding in real time. Like the TV show, the adventure presents in real time, crashes, earthquakes, and the consequences of its actors. Perfect for some TikTok type videos.

Stephen E Arnold, August 22, 2023


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