Gates ‘not afraid’ of Google

Heh, Bill is giving me lots of stuff to talk about tonight at a certain party at a certain Mountain View, CA location that I’m not allowed to blog about. Sorry, not my rules.

Larry and Sergey (the two main Google guys) tell me that the competition between Google and its competitors are way overexaggerated, by the way. I agree and yes, I just did break the blog quotation rules here. :-). It’s all about who does the best job for people. I’ve been meeting with execs from all over the world (only a small percentage of them are from Google) all day long and I see total untapped opportunity. I mean, freaking, big, untapped opportunity. The kind where people who run major media companies walk up to you and say “can you help us?” Google and MSN and Yahoo all put together haven’t even tapped a small percentage of the potential opportunity. We’re all leaving money on the table.

So, the challenge for all of our companies is to go after the untapped markets. If you’re a gold miner, are you gonna get rich by mining where other people and companies have mined already? Maybe, but it’s a lot harder work. Why not look at the vein that’s totally being ignored.

No one has nailed time-based search. No one has really nailed people-based search. No one has nailed metrics (can I go to any search engine and see a list of everyone I’ve ever linked to and how many times I’ve linked — or the other way, how many people have linked to me and how many times they’ve linked to me?)

Has anyone figured out really how to put blogs and photos on maps? Has anyone figured out how to mix professional news and amateur news in a way that demonstrates the correctness/authority/reputation of the article itself and the author in aggregate?

Has anyone figured out how to make advertising fun? Has anyone figured out how to report back to the search engines which people have actually bought anything after clicking on an ad and which ones just looked?

Has anyone figured out how to really translate from Farsi to Chinese to Japanese to English and back?

Has anyone figured out how to put a search engine onto an iPod?

Shall I go on? There’s lots of work in this industry for hundreds of companies to do without stepping on each other’s toes. When all the Internet challenges get done then we can worry about fighting.

Tim O’Reilly wonders if Microsoft is colluding against Google

Tim O’Reilly is sitting next to me. For the past hour he was typing furiously. So, I just visited his blog to read what he was writing.

He wrote, in a post titled OCA vs. Google Print Library Project?: “This PR positioning makes me think that the OCA, a worthwhile effort (to which O’Reilly has contributed content), is being hijacked by Yahoo! and Microsoft as a way of undermining Google.”

I leaned over and said “I wish we were that smart.” We both had a good laugh about that.

Ahh, tons of people are emailing me (that’s a link to John Battelle’s blog, since I’m getting an error when I hit it). No, I still can not confirm, nor deny, where I’ll be the next two days. Let’s just say I’m not in Redmond anymore. 😉

Yes, I still work at Microsoft and am still VERY excited about Microsoft’s future.

John Battelle analyzes why Google is running away from the crowd in the search space internet advertising space. Hey, I can tell you that one. I work for a Google competitor. We simply aren’t as good. Yet.

The word-of-mouth network around the world is so efficient now that you can NOT win if you don’t build the best of breed products and services. When I can honestly say that MSN is better than Google, you can bet I’ll be singing that from the rooftops. MSN +is+ getting better. I can see the improvement every month. The question is will we pass Google’s quality? Will we have an advertising engine that’s better than Google? I believe we can. But we’re not there yet (even the guys who make MSN’s search engine admit that). Until we are, Google will continue being rewarded by the market.

This reminds me of working on a magazine. See, Google isn’t a search company. It’s in the audience aggregation business. Get an audience together and then figure out how to serve advertising to that audience. Lots of people think Google is a search company. It’s not. This is why Google probably doesn’t care too much about newer search engines like Technorati, Feedster, IceRocket, Sphere, or Exalead (all of which have some search advantages over Google).

Google just wants to make sure they have the biggest audience (and smartest, and richest, and youngest).

Do you have a way to attract an audience on the Internet? That’s what the business types at the big companies are looking for. Do you have a way to serve better advertising to those audiences? That’s what they are looking for too. There’s business opportunities in those two places. The trick is, getting an audience is getting harder due to the choices we all have as to where to spend our time (and our money). The more choices there are, the harder it is to get any decent sized audience.

And on the advertising side, getting advertisers to feel comfortable spending money on your service will be hard. I remember when I helped run a camera store in Silicon Valley. We used to advertise in the Yellow Pages. Lots of other competitors would always pitch us on spending money with them. So we tried the alternative once. It didn’t work. So we went back to where the audience was.

You want to know where the money is in the internet advertising business? Follow the audience. That’s where it’s going to be.

MSN Search geeks on Channel 9

I just posted a frank talk with two of the geeks who are building MSN Search. It’s an hour long, and you’ll get a little look into how the geeks who build search engines think. If you’re interested in search, I think this one will be interesting to you. I was pretty hard on this team cause they are in the #3 spot. We talk about Google, noise, spam, and lots of other stuff.

I’m off to fly down to Silicon Valley. See ya tonight. I’ll be going to the TechCrunch Meetup, but will be there a bit late.