Google’s wet dream

Everyone who works at Google is hoping Microsoft actually uses the technology described in this patent (it removes items from the left, or organic search, if someone also advertises that item).

Why is that Google’s wet dream? Because it would instantly get noticed and would decrease its relevancy, especially among influentials who would tell the world about it.

If I were working at Google I’d say a little prayer before I go to sleep tonight thinking that some committee at Microsoft was really so stupid.

24 thoughts on “Google’s wet dream

  1. Apple believes in Superstars. they sent their OS X Performance engineer and his wife and kids to Tahiti for 10 days, all expenses paid. He deserved a reward in anybody’s opinion, but the way the Execs paraded the crown jewels for one person in front of the entire software engineering division is a very frugal gesture: give one person a lot to motivate everybody a little. It would have cost them a lot more to give everybody a $10K bonus (1,000 people * $10K = $10M), which would have meant spending a $1M per day! Kind of contrary to an earlier edict from the same exec who proclaimed that no credits would be listed in applications as “everyone contributes” (really they don’t want other companies to raid the name list of those who do desirable work”. Fair or not? You decide…

  2. Apple believes in Superstars. they sent their OS X Performance engineer and his wife and kids to Tahiti for 10 days, all expenses paid. He deserved a reward in anybody’s opinion, but the way the Execs paraded the crown jewels for one person in front of the entire software engineering division is a very frugal gesture: give one person a lot to motivate everybody a little. It would have cost them a lot more to give everybody a $10K bonus (1,000 people * $10K = $10M), which would have meant spending a $1M per day! Kind of contrary to an earlier edict from the same exec who proclaimed that no credits would be listed in applications as “everyone contributes” (really they don’t want other companies to raid the name list of those who do desirable work”. Fair or not? You decide…

  3. Adam,

    I totally disagree about the team thing.

    The places I’ve seen the best innovation is by individuals. Tim Berners-Lee, for instance, wasn’t helped by a team — he had to constantly fight for resources. Even after developing the Web he couldn’t even get the money to hire an assistant.

    I’ll take a Douglas Engelbart over 100 other people any day of the week. Or a Steve Wozniak over 100 other people any day of the week.

    Virtual Earth is the closest thing I can think of to an innovative Microsoft team (in the Web space, there are others in other spaces like gaming or databases).

  4. Adam,

    I totally disagree about the team thing.

    The places I’ve seen the best innovation is by individuals. Tim Berners-Lee, for instance, wasn’t helped by a team — he had to constantly fight for resources. Even after developing the Web he couldn’t even get the money to hire an assistant.

    I’ll take a Douglas Engelbart over 100 other people any day of the week. Or a Steve Wozniak over 100 other people any day of the week.

    Virtual Earth is the closest thing I can think of to an innovative Microsoft team (in the Web space, there are others in other spaces like gaming or databases).

  5. > Would either Google or Microsoft have done something like Twitter or Flickr?

    Surely they have :)

    An example off the top of my head from the Google side of things: Google Reader. It seems to have developed a rapidly increasing flock of people who (vocally!) LOVE the product. There were RSS readers before Reader, there were online photo albums before Flickr, but what each small team did was turn something “standard” into something that’s a pleasure to work with, something that people feel passionate about, something redefining the space.

    I frankly don’t know Microsoft as well as I know Google, but there must be a similar team, a similar story out of Redmond (or, out of one MS’ many other offices around the world).

    Many (maybe most?) big companies (of which I include Google now, given its size of >10K employees) aren’t just monolithic hives. They’re made up of sets of teams. So… respectfully disagreeing with you again (maybe even disagreeing with Google HR and certainly not speaking for them)… I don’t really believe in Superstars. I believe in generally good people, smart infrastructures, and solid teamwork. A good team — given the right resources — is worth far more, IMHO, than any superstar over the long haul.

  6. > Would either Google or Microsoft have done something like Twitter or Flickr?

    Surely they have :)

    An example off the top of my head from the Google side of things: Google Reader. It seems to have developed a rapidly increasing flock of people who (vocally!) LOVE the product. There were RSS readers before Reader, there were online photo albums before Flickr, but what each small team did was turn something “standard” into something that’s a pleasure to work with, something that people feel passionate about, something redefining the space.

    I frankly don’t know Microsoft as well as I know Google, but there must be a similar team, a similar story out of Redmond (or, out of one MS’ many other offices around the world).

    Many (maybe most?) big companies (of which I include Google now, given its size of >10K employees) aren’t just monolithic hives. They’re made up of sets of teams. So… respectfully disagreeing with you again (maybe even disagreeing with Google HR and certainly not speaking for them)… I don’t really believe in Superstars. I believe in generally good people, smart infrastructures, and solid teamwork. A good team — given the right resources — is worth far more, IMHO, than any superstar over the long haul.

  7. >I would hope and expect that the people actually writing code and managing products at MS care about their users more than threatening, screaming at or whining about the competition.

    Most of the developers at Microsoft I talk to are just frustrated by the system that doesn’t let them innovate very quickly and doesn’t encourage them to go after small things that turn big.

    Would either Google or Microsoft have done something like Twitter or Flickr?

  8. >I would hope and expect that the people actually writing code and managing products at MS care about their users more than threatening, screaming at or whining about the competition.

    Most of the developers at Microsoft I talk to are just frustrated by the system that doesn’t let them innovate very quickly and doesn’t encourage them to go after small things that turn big.

    Would either Google or Microsoft have done something like Twitter or Flickr?

  9. Adam: but Google goes after the college kids very aggressively and your HR people take it personally when they lose someone they wanted to land.

    You’re right, but you know one smart person CAN change the world. It’s why companies are so competitive over resources.

    I agree with the assertion that it’s not a zero sum game, but the competition for resources IS a zero sum game. There are only so many top notch computer scientists in the world. If you do hiring you’ll quickly figure that out.

    The ants in the ant farm often don’t know what the queen is doing, but the queen decides where the ants go. :-)

  10. Adam: but Google goes after the college kids very aggressively and your HR people take it personally when they lose someone they wanted to land.

    You’re right, but you know one smart person CAN change the world. It’s why companies are so competitive over resources.

    I agree with the assertion that it’s not a zero sum game, but the competition for resources IS a zero sum game. There are only so many top notch computer scientists in the world. If you do hiring you’ll quickly figure that out.

    The ants in the ant farm often don’t know what the queen is doing, but the queen decides where the ants go. :-)

  11. Hey, Robert.

    I’ve never chatted with Eric. I can only tell you what I see and experience each day at work, hence my mentioning “rank-and-file Googlers.” For the record, I work most closely with the Webspam and Search Quality folks.

    A recent MS lawyer seemed to throw a Ballmer on Google, but — again — I would hope and expect that the people actually writing code and managing products at MS care about their users more than threatening, screaming at or whining about the competition.

    And I stand by my assertion that the work world — especially the world Google inhabits — is not a zero sum game, nor even close to it.

    1000 smart college kids. You’re talking about recruiting, eh? I’m betting that many of them are not a great fit for Google, nor Google a great fit for them. Microsoft might be a better fit, and that’s fine. Hell, some of them might greatly prefer to go work for a small startup. Or work for the Peace Corp. Frankly, that’s an odd example, Robert. It’s the end of the world if Google hires [x] of those 1000 people? I’ve never even believed a lot of the scare stories “Oh, Google is hiring everyone up! There are no good people left!” Balderdash. The world is far more complex that.

    Anyway, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

  12. Hey, Robert.

    I’ve never chatted with Eric. I can only tell you what I see and experience each day at work, hence my mentioning “rank-and-file Googlers.” For the record, I work most closely with the Webspam and Search Quality folks.

    A recent MS lawyer seemed to throw a Ballmer on Google, but — again — I would hope and expect that the people actually writing code and managing products at MS care about their users more than threatening, screaming at or whining about the competition.

    And I stand by my assertion that the work world — especially the world Google inhabits — is not a zero sum game, nor even close to it.

    1000 smart college kids. You’re talking about recruiting, eh? I’m betting that many of them are not a great fit for Google, nor Google a great fit for them. Microsoft might be a better fit, and that’s fine. Hell, some of them might greatly prefer to go work for a small startup. Or work for the Peace Corp. Frankly, that’s an odd example, Robert. It’s the end of the world if Google hires [x] of those 1000 people? I’ve never even believed a lot of the scare stories “Oh, Google is hiring everyone up! There are no good people left!” Balderdash. The world is far more complex that.

    Anyway, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

  13. Adam: good point but I know from prior experience that at least SOME people at Google wish Microsoft ill will. Start with Eric, your CEO. He told me such straight to my face at Google’s Zeitgeist conference.

    But, hope that your attitude is more representative of where Google will be going in the future.

    Truth is that corporate life is competitive. If you think it’s not, you’re missing a whole lot about business that’s built into our culture and into the system itself.

    It also IS a zero sum game in a way. Let’s say there are 1,000 smart college kids graduating from school this year. You think there isn’t a zero sum game over their skills? Think again, I’ve seen how competitive big companies get.

    And, my mind can only deal with so many things. You are in a constant battle for my mind share (and those of other people).

    So, sorry, nice PR work there, but the real world is more competitive than that. Just ask Eric what he’d like to do to Microsoft.

  14. Adam: good point but I know from prior experience that at least SOME people at Google wish Microsoft ill will. Start with Eric, your CEO. He told me such straight to my face at Google’s Zeitgeist conference.

    But, hope that your attitude is more representative of where Google will be going in the future.

    Truth is that corporate life is competitive. If you think it’s not, you’re missing a whole lot about business that’s built into our culture and into the system itself.

    It also IS a zero sum game in a way. Let’s say there are 1,000 smart college kids graduating from school this year. You think there isn’t a zero sum game over their skills? Think again, I’ve seen how competitive big companies get.

    And, my mind can only deal with so many things. You are in a constant battle for my mind share (and those of other people).

    So, sorry, nice PR work there, but the real world is more competitive than that. Just ask Eric what he’d like to do to Microsoft.

  15. If I were working at Google I’d say a little prayer before I go to sleep tonight thinking that some committee at Microsoft was really so stupid.

    We don’t wish ill on other companies.
    We have plenty of work to do to build and improve our own stuff, manage growth, and so on.

    The pie (of users) is big. This is not a zero sum game. I realize you were trying to get at a larger point (that, IYHO, the Microsoft Patent is anti-user), but I’m hoping we bloggers begin to view and write about the wonderful world we live in a bit less antagonistically.

    As I wrote in a recent entry in my own blog, we rank-and-file Googlers aren’t spending our time thinking of ways to bash the competition. I’d hope and expect that our counterparts at Microsoft feel and act the same.

  16. If I were working at Google I’d say a little prayer before I go to sleep tonight thinking that some committee at Microsoft was really so stupid.

    We don’t wish ill on other companies.
    We have plenty of work to do to build and improve our own stuff, manage growth, and so on.

    The pie (of users) is big. This is not a zero sum game. I realize you were trying to get at a larger point (that, IYHO, the Microsoft Patent is anti-user), but I’m hoping we bloggers begin to view and write about the wonderful world we live in a bit less antagonistically.

    As I wrote in a recent entry in my own blog, we rank-and-file Googlers aren’t spending our time thinking of ways to bash the competition. I’d hope and expect that our counterparts at Microsoft feel and act the same.

  17. They give patents for anything these days? Seriously though, can Microsoft’s relevancy in search go any lower than what it is now?

  18. They give patents for anything these days? Seriously though, can Microsoft’s relevancy in search go any lower than what it is now?

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