Big Company-itis

This isn’t going to be a long and thoughtful post on Google (GOOG), just some observations which hopefully I’ll come back to and mine for more depth.

Google is a different company than it was even a year ago. It’s still got the world’s best search engine and I use it maybe a hundred times a day and really can’t think of not using it. It’s like firefox, a fundamental part of my daily web experience, a starting point for most anything and everything. Search for Google is like Windows for Microsoft, it’s the product that pays the bills for everything else and is ubiquitous.

That said, YouTube was the beginning of the end of old Google and the beginning of new Google. I personally love that Google bought YouTube, because I love YouTube and everything it’s about. But that was the line in the sand that Google crossed with the media owners. Google is now public enemy number one with content owners of all kinds. Witness Sam Zell saying that "Google steals newspaper’s content". That is just not true. But the claim that YouTube (ie Google) steals Viacom’s content rings a bit truer (I also don’t agree with that statement). Google is big, powerful, and rich, but it’s also now in the same shoes as Microsoft was in the 1990s. They are the big powerful company that everyone hates (not me).

Look at the DoubleClick deal. They outbid everyone. That’s what Google can do. They have the big pot at the table and can win by just making it too expensive for anyone else to play. But the losers are going to get their revenge by calling in the Feds to look at the deal. Google’s lawyers are going to become their most important asset and when lawyers are more important than engineers to a company, you lose.

Finally, Google is losing engineers, at least some engineers. And the "HR acqusition" model may be losing its effectiveness for Google, because they cannot give every project the attention that it would get as an independent company. Just look at the Dodgeball founders exit interview to see what I mean.  These guys sold their company to Google and then watched entrepreneurs who had more freedom to innovate beat them to the promised land.

Big companies are not the best places to innovate and guess what, Google is a big company now.