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.