One Half of the Sundar & Prabhakar Act Gets Egged: Garrf.

April 30, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

After I wrote Google Version 2: The Calculating Predator, BearStearns bought the rights to portions of my research and published one of its analyst reports. In that report, a point was made about Google’s research into semantic search. Remember, this was in 2005, long before the AI balloon inflated to the size of Taylor Swift’s piggy bank. My client (whom I am not allowed to name) and I were in the Manhattan BearStearns’ office. We received a call from Prabhakar Raghavan, who was the senior technology something at Yahoo at that time. I knew of Dr. Raghavan because he had been part of the Verity search outfit. On that call, Dr. Raghavan was annoyed that BearStearns suggested Yahoo was behind the eight ball in Web search. We listened, and I pointed out that Yahoo was not matching Google’s patent filing numbers. Although not an indicator of innovation, it is one indicator. The Yahoo race car had sputtered and had lost the search race. I recall one statement Dr. Raghavan uttered, “I can do a better search engine for $300,000 dollars.” Well, I am still waiting. Dr. Raghavan may have an opportunity to find his future elsewhere if he continues to get the type of improvised biographical explosive device shoved under his office door at Google. I want to point out that I thought Dr. Raghavan’s estimate of the cost of search was a hoot. How could he beat that for a joke worthy of Jack Benny?


A big dumb bunny gets egged. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Good enough.

I am referring to “The Man Who Killed Google Search,” written by Edward Zitron. For those to whom Mr. Zitron is not a household name like Febreze air freshener, he is “the CEO of national Media Relations and Public Relations company EZPR, of which I am both the E (Ed) and the Z (Zitron). I host the Better Offline Podcast, coming to iHeartRadio and everywhere else you find your podcasts February 2024.” For more about Mr. Zitron, navigate to this link. (Yep, it takes quite a while to load, but be patient.)

The main point of the write up is that the McKinsey-experienced Sundar Pichai (the other half of the comedy act) hired the article-writing, Verity-seasoned Dr. Raghavan to help steer the finely-crafted corporate aircraft carrier, USS Google into the Sea of Money. Even though, the duo are not very good at comedy, they are doing a bang up job of making the creaking online advertising machine output big money. If you don’t know how big, just check out the earning for the most recent financial quarter at this link. If you don’t want to wade through Silicon Valley jargon, Google is “a two trillion dollar company.” How do you like that, Mr. and Mrs. Traditional Advertising?

The write up is filled with proper names of Googlers past and present. The point is that the comedy duo dumped some individuals who embraced the ethos of the old, engineering-oriented, relevant search results Google. The vacancies were filled with those who could shove more advertising into what once were clean, reasonably well-lighted places. At the same time, carpetland (my term for the executive corridor down which Messrs. Brin and Page once steered their Segways) elevated above the wonky world of the engineers, the programmers, the Ivory Tower thinker types, and outright wonkiness of the advanced research units. (Yes, there were many at one time.)

Using the thought processes of McKinsey (the opioid idea folks) and the elocutionary skills of Dr. Raghavan, Google search degraded while the money continued to flow. The story presented by Mr. Zitron is interesting. I will leave it to you to internalize it and thank your luck stars you are not given the biographical improvised explosive device as a seat cushion. Yowzah.

Several observations:

  1. I am not sure the Sundar & Prabhakar duo wrote the script for the Death of Google Search. Believe me, there were other folks in Google carpetland aiding the process. How about a baby maker in the legal department as an example of ground principles? What about an attempted suicide by a senior senior senior manager’s squeeze? What about a big time thinker’s untimely demise as a result of narcotics administered by a rental female?
  2. The problems at Google are a result of decades of high school science club members acting out their visions of themselves as masters of the universe and a desire to rig the game so money flowed. Cleverness, cute tricks, and owning the casino and the hotel and the parking lot were part of Google’s version of Hotel California. The business set up was money in, fancy dancing in public, and nerdland inside. Management? Hey, math is hard. Managing is zippo.
  3. The competitive arena was not set up for a disruptor like the Google. I do not want to catalog what the company did to capture what appears to be a very good market position in online advertising. After a quarter century, the idea that Google might be an alleged monopoly is getting some attention. But alleged is one thing; change is another.
  4. The innovator’s dilemma has arrived in the lair of Googzilla. After inventing tensors, OpenAI made something snazzy with them and cut a deal with Microsoft. The result was the AI hyper moment with Google viewed as a loser. Forget the money. Google is not able to respond, some said. Perception is important. The PR gaffe in Paris where Dr. Prabhakar showed off Bard outputting incorrect information; the protests and arrests of staff; and the laundry list of allegations about the company’s business practices in the EU are compounding the one really big problem — Google’s ability to control its costs. Imagine. A corporate grunt sport could be the hidden disease. Is Googzilla clear headed or addled? Time will tell I believe.

Net net: The man who killed Google is just an clueless accomplice, not the wizard with the death ray cooking the goose and its eggs. Ultimately, in my opinion, we have to blame the people who use Google products and services, rely on Google advertising, and trust search results. Okay, Dr. Raghavan, suspended sentence. Now you can go build your $300,000 Web search engine. I will be available to evaluate it as I did Search2, Neeva, and the other attempts to build a better Google. Can you do it? Sure, you will be a Xoogler. Xooglers can do anything. Just look at Mr. Brin’s airship. And that egg will wash off unlike that crazy idea to charge Verity customers for each entry in an index passed for each user’s query. And that’s the joke that’s funnier than the Paris bollocksing of smart software. Taxi meter pricing for an in-house, enterprise search system. That is truly hilarious.

Stephen E Arnold, April 30, 2024


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