There’s been a lot of discussion about the “new” Google under Larry Page and whether they are a stronger company, a leaner company, or a company finding new direction. As is usually the case with the Twittersphere, a retweet brought a link to Erik McClure’s blog post where he discusses Google and its “decline.”

McClure makes the argument that Google’s ethos of “Don’t Be Evil” lasted only until Larry Page took over. Now, I grant you that’s a heavy accusation, but as you delve further into his blog post he makes a good argument. Google was once a company that let engineers use 20% of their time to pursue their own projects and we know some of the companies greatest achievements have been the result including Gmail and AdSense. During this time Google was, as McClure puts it, a “shining beacon of hope, a force of good in a bleak world of corporations with maximizing profit.”

Now, under the tenure of founder and CEO Larry Page the company seems more focused than ever on maximizing profit. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, that’s the ultimate goal of just about every company the world over…make a profit. However, as you delve deeper into his post McClure compares Google and its rebellious stage as the “antithesis” to Microsoft’s “poisonous corporate culture dominated by profiteering. Google was just a bunch of really smart people trying to make the world a better place.” The final takeaway from the post and perhaps the most insightful is that if Google couldn’t maintain its idealistic culture in the face of corporate vultures…who can? “If Google, of all companies, couldn’t maintain that idealistic vision, was it even possible?”

Is the Google we know and love now dominated solely by profits and advertising revenue that it allows for services like Reader to disappear even in the face of a small but hugely influential group of users who swear it’s a saving grace? It’s almost a running joke in the tech world that any of Google’s new features or even some of its core software could disappear at any moment, and that doesn’t seem like the promise of the Google we knew, only the promise of a company once dominated by ideas now dominated by profit.

You can read McClure’s full post here and provide your own insight below.

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3 Responses to “Is Google under Larry Page on the decline? Here’s one editorial that makes an interesting argument”

  1. android brings nothing visible
    maps losing features
    g+ half baked
    play store is inferior
    Nexuses are still inferior in compare the the bests
    etc etc etc
    decline is coming

    and there is still a lot what they are able to bring!

  2. They need to find their Middle Way.

    Google is still a very young company when compared with other behemoths its size (I’d argue that it is the youngest company within an order of magnitude of its headcount & market cap). Steve Jobs was a big role model for Larry Page, and clearly he’s trying to concentrate on “making a small number of really great products” like Apple does (rather than “profits at all costs” of Larry Ellison). They may have killed off a few products like Reader, iGoogle, and a bunch of smaller services, but look at the huge effort they’ve been pouring into Search, Maps, Android, YouTube, & Google+ since Larry came back into the CEO’s seat. Sounds a whole lot like Mac, MacBook, iPod, iPad, and iPhone.

    But I think they need to find their Middle Way. Google is not Apple the device & software company (albeit quickly becoming a subscription services company too), it’s an ad-supported services company. Ditch the stupid Nerf toys and pinball machines, but bring back 20% time, or at least make it easy for senior people that have “earned” it. Listen to the more intelligent & articulate of your customers more & incorporate their feedback into your design. Interact with them. There was a certain amount of Stalinism involved in developing Google’s clean search homepage that made it so successful, and that’s great, but products need to evolve with customer feedback as the biggest driver of change. Very often Google’s reaction to the traditional way things have been done in the past is to do the exact opposite, but the best solution is usually somewhere in between the two extremes.

    Be more customer focused. Seize revenue opportunities and use them a vehicle to improve product quality. Personally I’d be happy to pay a few bucks a year for most of the Google services I use, on the condition that I get some kind of a guarantee that I’ll get a least 2 years’ notice if they’ll be phased out. That was also Apple’s model with that eventually became iCloud…

    And don’t let Wall St.’s quarterly earnings call push you around, or you’ll look like HP in a few years…

  3. Prem Suraj says:

    I probably have to agree with this, the 20% time and a lot of the great characteristics of the old Google is found no more.. Larry Page has made them more efficient and streamlined, but at what cost? They have lost the hope and goodwill of a lot of people during the transition..