Google gets big company disease?

The two guys who started Dodgeball leave in a hissy fit. Google bought Dodgeball in mid-2005.

Dodgeball was the pre-cursor to Twitter and Jaiku (albeit a bit more focused on just cell phones than either of those newer services are). Last summer it was the rage with many of the San Francisco cool kids, er, influencers. I remember Irina and Eddie using it almost non stop on our trip to Montana.

So, why didn’t Google get it enough to give these two more resources? Easy. Same reason I couldn’t convince Microsoft to buy Flickr before Yahoo did.

It’s a small thing. A stupid thing. A lame thing.

Big companies have trouble grokking small things like Dodgeball. Heck, how many of you have called Twitter “really lame” in the past two months? Tons!

More evidence that Google is having difficulty getting small things? I heard a rumor that Google executive Marissa Mayer almost killed the Google Reader team because she didn’t think it would get popular. Feed readers are still “small things.” Seeing business value in them is difficult.

It seems that management is trying to get a handle on the chaos that is Google but in doing so is removing some of what made Google attractive to entrepreneurial developers.

What are you hearing from your Google friends?

87 thoughts on “Google gets big company disease?

  1. Mostly the same thing, except some of the coding community was brought in to make something wonderful, and ended up not doing what they wanted, to leave very quickly in the aftermath of the issue. Otherwise, looking at what is happening, google might have reached the point of diminishing returns, they understand the big deals, and as you say don’t understand the smaller deals.

    What is interesting is seeing how well they manage to integrate the new companies, and with companies like Zoho, Octopuz and others, the on line collbarative tool market group(s) and others that are barking at google’s heels really looks like microsoft circa 1998 when MSNBC and other deals happened or were in the works.

    Where do you think the “dumping ground” division of google is end up being?

  2. Mostly the same thing, except some of the coding community was brought in to make something wonderful, and ended up not doing what they wanted, to leave very quickly in the aftermath of the issue. Otherwise, looking at what is happening, google might have reached the point of diminishing returns, they understand the big deals, and as you say don’t understand the smaller deals.

    What is interesting is seeing how well they manage to integrate the new companies, and with companies like Zoho, Octopuz and others, the on line collbarative tool market group(s) and others that are barking at google’s heels really looks like microsoft circa 1998 when MSNBC and other deals happened or were in the works.

    Where do you think the “dumping ground” division of google is end up being?

  3. Scoble – fair enough. I appreciate your response. I overreacted to the ValleyWag thing. What is the goal of your speech at Postiecon?

  4. Scoble – fair enough. I appreciate your response. I overreacted to the ValleyWag thing. What is the goal of your speech at Postiecon?

  5. I think any big company goes through this phase. One thing I don’t agree is – I’ve seen avg joe’s getting into google just beacuse they had a referral at Google. So, I’m not sure if HR is that stringent anymore. But, everyones happy with benefits and the added glamour of working for Google.

    Scoble – Did you see this anytime happening at MSFT? Pls give me your honest opinion, now that you’re not there anymore! :)

  6. I think any big company goes through this phase. One thing I don’t agree is – I’ve seen avg joe’s getting into google just beacuse they had a referral at Google. So, I’m not sure if HR is that stringent anymore. But, everyones happy with benefits and the added glamour of working for Google.

    Scoble – Did you see this anytime happening at MSFT? Pls give me your honest opinion, now that you’re not there anymore! :)

  7. Word only gets around when the word gets around. We would never know about the time when it didn’t get around, would we? :)

  8. Word only gets around when the word gets around. We would never know about the time when it didn’t get around, would we? :)

  9. #38: why wouldn’t you trust anything that I write? How is my speaking at a conference going to affect that? I don’t get that.

    My disclosure policy has not changed. I will disclose anytime I’m getting paid to do something or if I have a conflict of interest about something I write about. I’m not getting paid to do this speech.

    How do you know someone didn’t pay me to write this post? Word gets around when someone gets paid to do stuff and doesn’t disclose it.

    Pay PodTech for some other things? If there’s a logo on the PodTech site you can safely assume PodTech has been paid for something. If you ask, I’ll tell you what they paid for.

  10. #38: why wouldn’t you trust anything that I write? How is my speaking at a conference going to affect that? I don’t get that.

    My disclosure policy has not changed. I will disclose anytime I’m getting paid to do something or if I have a conflict of interest about something I write about. I’m not getting paid to do this speech.

    How do you know someone didn’t pay me to write this post? Word gets around when someone gets paid to do stuff and doesn’t disclose it.

    Pay PodTech for some other things? If there’s a logo on the PodTech site you can safely assume PodTech has been paid for something. If you ask, I’ll tell you what they paid for.

  11. Scoble – Given that you are the keynote speaker at Postie Con, how are we to trust anything you write anymore? What is your disclosure policy going to be? How do I know someone didn’t pay you to write this post? Or pay Podtech for some other things?

  12. Scoble – Given that you are the keynote speaker at Postie Con, how are we to trust anything you write anymore? What is your disclosure policy going to be? How do I know someone didn’t pay you to write this post? Or pay Podtech for some other things?

  13. it’s all about grinding the schedule.

    I was being sarcastic, as to the recruitment pitches.

  14. it’s all about grinding the schedule.

    I was being sarcastic, as to the recruitment pitches.

  15. “I still think that Twitter is massively lame. I don’t care how much press / traffic it gets.”

    I 2nd this, twitter is just about the dummest web 2.0 idea I have ever seen. It’s mobile myspace, without the myspace. As if myspace were even good to begin with.

    There’s a function to notify THOSE YOU CARE ABOUT from your cell, it’s called text messaging. Most people, believe it or not are not interested in internet whoring.

    I could be doing another web project but I’m not. The future lies in functional code, not a new interface to X same old thing.

    Silverlight?
    On the C9 video they were talking about how youtube could use this instead of Windows Media player, HELLO?? Idiots, Youtube uses flash. And YOU Microdump didn’t even bother to build a Linux implementation.

    Same old crap, WORSE interface than ever before. And this is why web 2.0 didn’t even GET A CHANCE to bubble and burst like web 1.0. Dodgeball was LUCKY to even be bought up by Google in the first place.

  16. > Google was supposed to be a hatching ground for all this entrepreneurial activity.

    That’s all good when you don’t need to deliver. But once you have products, bugs, and releases, it’s all about grinding the schedule.

  17. “I still think that Twitter is massively lame. I don’t care how much press / traffic it gets.”

    I 2nd this, twitter is just about the dummest web 2.0 idea I have ever seen. It’s mobile myspace, without the myspace. As if myspace were even good to begin with.

    There’s a function to notify THOSE YOU CARE ABOUT from your cell, it’s called text messaging. Most people, believe it or not are not interested in internet whoring.

    I could be doing another web project but I’m not. The future lies in functional code, not a new interface to X same old thing.

    Silverlight?
    On the C9 video they were talking about how youtube could use this instead of Windows Media player, HELLO?? Idiots, Youtube uses flash. And YOU Microdump didn’t even bother to build a Linux implementation.

    Same old crap, WORSE interface than ever before. And this is why web 2.0 didn’t even GET A CHANCE to bubble and burst like web 1.0. Dodgeball was LUCKY to even be bought up by Google in the first place.

  18. > Google was supposed to be a hatching ground for all this entrepreneurial activity.

    That’s all good when you don’t need to deliver. But once you have products, bugs, and releases, it’s all about grinding the schedule.

  19. Robert, you don´t need to go elsewhere than look at Google Answers that was developed in Glabs or seeing how the unlimited potential of Blogger is wasted left and right and is now a 60% polluted… and that s from something that could be producing TONS of money if they had done something, anything wih it..

    i remmeber Dodgeball, i thought the best part of it was how it had a social network and a concept that pushed to be done on the go…it was really something fresh, then they were bought by Gooogle and poof, from one week to another, they were gone..

    i would also be pissing mad about it…mostly because they missed out of the action, if they had been active, they could have been if not equal to twitter, they would have been riding along, and jaiku maybe would not even exis since it will be dodgeball place.

    but not all is negative, at leat they now can do whatever they want.. the only question is:

    They have another really good and fresh idea to carry on?, or will they just spin off something already seen and add themselves to not too exploited market?..

  20. Robert, you don´t need to go elsewhere than look at Google Answers that was developed in Glabs or seeing how the unlimited potential of Blogger is wasted left and right and is now a 60% polluted… and that s from something that could be producing TONS of money if they had done something, anything wih it..

    i remmeber Dodgeball, i thought the best part of it was how it had a social network and a concept that pushed to be done on the go…it was really something fresh, then they were bought by Gooogle and poof, from one week to another, they were gone..

    i would also be pissing mad about it…mostly because they missed out of the action, if they had been active, they could have been if not equal to twitter, they would have been riding along, and jaiku maybe would not even exis since it will be dodgeball place.

    but not all is negative, at leat they now can do whatever they want.. the only question is:

    They have another really good and fresh idea to carry on?, or will they just spin off something already seen and add themselves to not too exploited market?..

  21. “Because you know the people you are likewise buying are talented and should be able to do other things”

    You are inmplying that the buyout intended to get the people behind dodgeball inside Google. I don’t think so. It was to get the App in to the g-plex.

    But as someobody in the blogosphere pointed out – its been about 18 months since the buy and typically the golden handcuffs time out around that time. So this is not all that surprising

  22. “Because you know the people you are likewise buying are talented and should be able to do other things”

    You are inmplying that the buyout intended to get the people behind dodgeball inside Google. I don’t think so. It was to get the App in to the g-plex.

    But as someobody in the blogosphere pointed out – its been about 18 months since the buy and typically the golden handcuffs time out around that time. So this is not all that surprising

  23. Opportunity cost is the biggest expense at google. They buy a company and give it some time but, after awhile, they need to make tradeoffs. No compan can pursue every project so managers go after the ones that will have the greatest benefit. how one asses that benefit is where good and evil begin to come into play. Does one focus solely on user-experience? Value to the company? There’ s no simple answer and its why it may be easy to play critic.

    However, imagine if you had to decide between removing more engineers from search for dodgeball. Its a tough call.

    At the end of the day, its easy to paint these guys are being “miserable.” But remember, these miserable people probably walked after their options vested.

  24. Opportunity cost is the biggest expense at google. They buy a company and give it some time but, after awhile, they need to make tradeoffs. No compan can pursue every project so managers go after the ones that will have the greatest benefit. how one asses that benefit is where good and evil begin to come into play. Does one focus solely on user-experience? Value to the company? There’ s no simple answer and its why it may be easy to play critic.

    However, imagine if you had to decide between removing more engineers from search for dodgeball. Its a tough call.

    At the end of the day, its easy to paint these guys are being “miserable.” But remember, these miserable people probably walked after their options vested.

  25. “Why buy something when you don’t know what you are going to do with it? (or you know you won’t do anything with it)”

    Because you know the people you are likewise buying are talented and should be able to do other things.

    I would ask the question: why did the Dodgeball guys go to Google if it wasn’t solely to make some bank? And if so, why are they whining?

  26. “Why buy something when you don’t know what you are going to do with it? (or you know you won’t do anything with it)”

    Because you know the people you are likewise buying are talented and should be able to do other things.

    I would ask the question: why did the Dodgeball guys go to Google if it wasn’t solely to make some bank? And if so, why are they whining?

  27. I’m hearing that Google people are getting bored and frustrated right and left. However, I hear that about the place where I work all the time and many companies have the same issue. Some people just aren’t cut out for an environment where resources are finite, priorities are many and tough choices have to be made.

  28. I’m hearing that Google people are getting bored and frustrated right and left. However, I hear that about the place where I work all the time and many companies have the same issue. Some people just aren’t cut out for an environment where resources are finite, priorities are many and tough choices have to be made.

  29. “Google probably re purposed parts of the dodgeball code all over it’s infrastructure”

    Likely. But doesn’t look like that was the case. Had something similar happened the Dodgeball founders would have mentioned it.

    Besides, the things you have mentioned (like the sql compiler) are really much more general purpose than a DodgeBall application’s code base. To me it looks like there are 2 types of Google buyouts

    1) This thing looks cool! we must have it.
    2) This is not the worst web 2.0 app and let’s not leave it to any competitor.

    And the Cat-2 buys are getting much less attention than the founders would like.

  30. “Google probably re purposed parts of the dodgeball code all over it’s infrastructure”

    Likely. But doesn’t look like that was the case. Had something similar happened the Dodgeball founders would have mentioned it.

    Besides, the things you have mentioned (like the sql compiler) are really much more general purpose than a DodgeBall application’s code base. To me it looks like there are 2 types of Google buyouts

    1) This thing looks cool! we must have it.
    2) This is not the worst web 2.0 app and let’s not leave it to any competitor.

    And the Cat-2 buys are getting much less attention than the founders would like.

  31. “It must be thanksgiving all year round at Google…”

    Google isn’t the only company that does this.
    http://www.kiko.com/

    What happened to Kiko.com???

    Tucows bought it for 1/4M and promptly shut it down.
    They wanted to see the code base ect… and use the calendar internally. They probably re purposed the code base. I had this happen to one of our popular businesses as well. It happens all the time.

    The company figures it’s cheaper to buy the code base, than to pay coders to reprogram it. Coders regularly make 100k+ per year. Those that are worth anything anyways.

    It IS cheaper to buy at least some of the code ready made, even if that is not the whole solution.

    It happens a LOT.

    Photosynth at Microsoft was originally supposed to be based on Mozilla, and was OpenGL
    http://blog.gmane.org/gmane.comp.mozilla.jobs/page=2

    They were looking for coders for it that had skills with Mozilla server code.

    Why not just hire coders to do it, than repurpose?
    Because it actually takes longer and is far more expensive.

    We are now writing a patented SQL compiler and I’m sure some companies will be jumping all over that when it’s done. Why? Because people who write compilers regularly make 150k+ and up. And it takes forever to accomplish a stable product.

    It’s really that simple. Google probably re purposed parts of the dodgeball code all over it’s infrastructure. They have enough money though, that they probably didn’t even need to do that.

    Who knows. Dodgeball developers got paid and now they can do a new start up and not have to worry about getting a cubicle job. I think Google is a hero in this situation overall.

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