The “Worm Turning” Moment

In this post John Battelle, one of the most astute Google watchers, talks with his friend John Heilemann (who has also written about Google recently) about Google and whether they are facing a moment, much like Microsoft faced in the early 90s, when the world turned against them.

I have been wondering this out loud for a while, starting with my "Starbucks of the Internet" post and continuing to this day.  I’ve even called Google lame which I think they have been in their implementation of many of their new services.

It’s a natural reaction for a VC, who funds early stage companies that find themselves facing down Google, to both worry about and think hard about Google.  And I don’t like what I see all that much.

John says the "worm turning" moment is "when the world realizes that the company is *too powerful* and its ambitions are *too great.*"

If that is the definition, then we’ve clearly reached that moment, maybe as long ago as last year.

Mark Pincus says it best in his post about Google Base:

my take is google has chosen between two paths. one which i thought
they were on was to be a platform to enable great things on the web.
google could have powered everything with its search engine, ad
infrastructure, massive crawling and computing power. it could have
been a democratizing force, enabling small services to flourish in
being found and in serving them a platform on which to innovate.

instead google has chosen to be merely another big corporate titan.
like microsoft, it’s choosing to go for the gold, enriching their
shareholders rather than enabling industries. msft started with the
promise of an open platform that would unite and enable an industry.
small companies could just build software and stop worrying about
platforms. this platform turned out to be a trojan horse as msft
usurped its power. initially the company enjoyed great profit growth
just selling the platform but soon had to look at the apps on top to
keep growing and then further to the utilities around it and any other
good idea it could eat up.

like msft, google is now going after every other oppty around it,
taking advantage of its trojan horse position. suddenly every company
is at risk. companies as far away as walmart have to have a ‘google
strategy’. today, vc’s ask every new startup how they will compete with
google. (at least we dont have to answer the msft question any more.)