"If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."
Keep in mind this is the same guy who blackballed CNET reporters for finding personal information on him through google search.
The guy represents every wrong with tech. Privacy for him, but none for thee. And that's not even including on his shady ties to government.
You mean anti-privacy I think? It took me way too long to get there.
Though maybe that's just what growth does in general.
EDIT: I singled out Larry Page before, but that's a bit skewed, given that he founded Google and was its CEO for the first few years.
The one time I met with Schmidt to explain my cloud project, he was delighted and encouraging and helped shape the design in a way that made it much more effective. He was a very effective leader (although not everybody agrees- some people think he's an arrogant asshole).
I think they had a similar idea after Apple's iPhone started gaining traction, it's only that in the case of Android Google's execution was an order of magnitude better compared to what they did with Google+. I wouldn't put the blame for the failure of Google+ on Page only, I'd also assign it to Gundotra, after all he was the man directly in charge of it all, Page's fault is that he chose and supported the wrong man for the job.
I don't think it was super-obvious 10 years ago, but social has turned out to be a growth product that led to a minefield for the successful companies (look at Twitter and Facebook now) because the growth strategies were so sketchy that people and the government ultimately had to reject them.
Ultimately, it's on Page, though. He stood up at TGIF and told all the player to "get along" when Search had made a coherent argument that coupling the Social brand with search was brand suicide. I think Google could have made a much less obnoxious social network, maybe it would have been good, but without aggressive growth strategies, it wouldn't have been popular (a lot changed since the Orkut days, most people forget Google had a social network with half a billion users at one point!)
Didn't know that, it's cool to learn about it.
About Twitter and FB being on a minefield I agree, but I don't think that will lead to any serious consequences for them, because there's almost no political will to make things right and that happens because the voters themselves (those FB and Twitter users) have almost no interest in how those companies reached their present size. In the end any skilled politician can smell that there's no sense in going to war against a company (or against a communication medium) that consumes at least 3 or 4 hours per day, on average, of their voters' time, it's like a US politician going to war against television in the 1960s, backed when TV had just emerged, it would be public opinion suicide.
Retrospectively I still do think that Page had the right idea to try and force Social (back at that time I also thought it as a crazy idea), like I said, I think that he had sensed that Search will be of almost no use in a world where the internet/web is not represented by websites anymore. I do agree though that even as seen from the outside Page could have done a much better job of getting the Google employees behind him and behind his idea, I think that that wood and arrows metaphor he used was really, really poor and, frankly speaking, quite condescending.
Those eyeballs weren't worth as much to advertisers, and I don't think Google valued the product highly because of it.
The reason why they kept it like that was because of the processing power that was needed to serve the pages. That was more than search. Every individual had to be served a different page. And computing at that time weren't as cheap.
Facebook was the first social network where you can actually go and signup an account on your own. And they did it by heavily optimizing their code and hardware. That was a separate challenge, which seemed to me Google was unwilling to take for Orkut or anything social at that time.
That's what I felt was happening as an outsider.
That's doubly false :)
First, all social networks that preceded it (LiveJournal and MySpace were big amongst my peers) had open sign-ups.
Second, Facebook became popular because the sign-up was not open. You needed to have an .edu email address to sign up. This was a feature, as it kept parents and younger siblings off the networks. Having a FB account was a literal right of passage, something you can only get once you go to college. It spread because of that; those were the great days of FB.
Myspace, Friendster, Bebo…
Even today, I think YouTube has a great potential for becoming a better social network, than G+ ever was.
Seeing the FB revenue figures today I can see why he cared, but I think he undermined the long term prospects of the company with this shit quite a bit, and distracted it from more valuable pursuits as well. That's all on him, not on Gundotra.
I'm not under 30, and can't really say, but I've read frequently in the media that young people don't use Facebook. I use it to a limited extent, and I think everyone I know that uses it is 30-40ish.
I'd blame size and market position more. Google was left as one of very few profitable giants standing when the dot-com crash hit, and yet they were young enough to not have the institutional inertia of Amazon, E-bay, and Yahoo. That left them exceptionally well positioned to capitalize on the Internet's deployment phase, where the technology got good enough and widespread enough to really build huge businesses off it. They managed to own the next platform (mobile) but were too large, slow, and entrenched to really understand the implications of it, and they're not even attempting to play in the cryptoverse.
They aren't even attempting to play in snake oil or astrology either
At least I hope it's not Bitcoin. The power use is obscene.
What exactly is this and what business is doing well in it?
Just like every other gold rush in history. Fortunes get created, but often not for the folks who think they're going to get rich.
On the other hand, in the same time period (actually in a shorter time period!), machine learning driven technologies like voice and image recognition have gone from sci-fi to commonplace. I ask: which is more innovative?
If you wait until it's obvious to everyone that something's a good idea, you're not being innovative, you're just an opportunist. Similarly, if it turns out that it's not actually a good idea, you're not being innovative, you've just wasted a whole lot of time.
Innovation happens at the intersection of contrarian & right. You have to be willing to stake your time, energy, and ego on an idea that many people believe is bad, impossible, or not worth it (otherwise it would've been done already), but you also have to be right in your judgment.
1. That Google didn't research crypto internally and purposely decide not to pursue it.
2. That crypto is worth staking Google's time, energy, and ego on.
3. That crypto involvement is a direct reason a company is or is not innovative.
Internal research is useless.
The only way to know whether a new idea will work is to try it: put some minimal form of it in front of people and see if they actually get use it. People are complex; sometimes they do things that all rational thought says they shouldn't (buying Bitcoin and investing in ICOs would both fit into that category, IMHO), and many times they don't do things that all rational analysis says they should (I participated in research projects while at Google for both micropayments for content and for labeling trustworthy sources on the results, both of which most people would agree are good goals but neither of which has ever worked, and I founded a startup afterwards to provide career guidance to undergrads, which every adult we talked to said "I love what you're doing, and totally wish that existed when I was a student" and every student said "I love that idea and would totally use it", and then promptly never looked at it again once we built it.)
There's no guarantee that external research works either, but at least you've learned something applicable to the next idea.
And then get skewered left and right for shutting down products? You can't have it both ways.
> The only way to know whether a new idea will work is to try it: put some minimal form of it in front of people and see if they actually get use it.
And in the face of a universe of potential ideas how do you determine whether you invest time into prototyping pre-sneezed tissues? Internal research. You’ve just moved the goal post.
b) 'Wasting time' is a part of research. If you never fail, you're missing opportunities. That said, you pick your failures with the hope of getting the right kinds of wins... which brings us to...
c) Giant centralized cloud-based businesses have giant centralized and for-the-most-part trusted datastores. There's no reason to use a blockchain if a standard distributed database suits your needs. From where I sit, blockchains are mainly a solution in search of a problem.
(and just imagine the press cycles if a FAANG company rolled out a blockchain, and thus burnt god-knows how much coal bringing it mainstream...)
I'm equally convinced - and I suspect I disagree with most HNers here - that there are also some problems for which blockchains are the only solution - they just don't work with centralized data stores, mostly because nobody would trust a single entity to manage that data store. Google isn't even looking for those problems. In general, Google does not look for problems, it takes problems that everybody knows about and looks for solutions. There are thousands of entrepreneurs in the cryptoverse who are looking for those problems.
There was a time, early in its history, where Google was willing to take a solution - download the web and keep only the links - and then find the problem (search) for which it was the solution. And then they leveraged that solution into all sorts of other problems - webmail, navigation & directions, news, academic papers, video, etc. But the thing is that this is a risky business: most solutions in search of a problem don't actually solve anything, so the time spent solving them is wasted.
One could argue that getting enormous amounts of money without needing to produce any results for it is the very definition of "doing well".
Which is a good thing considering how much of the population's life is already intertwined with and recorded by Google. I can't imagine anything more dystopian than a Google issued currency.
Google has launched multiple micropayment products as replacements for ads. Nobody uses them.
Can you still extrapolate from this that the tipping model is even anywhere near a threat to Google's ad based business model that they should be incorporating it? And is it even an apples to apples comparison? Many creators don't use Patreon in spite of or to replace ads, they use it as a supplement.
Moreover, just because something is technically simple to integrate, doesn't automatically make it the correct business decision to do so.
> Can you still extrapolate from this that the tipping model is even anywhere near a threat to Google's ad based business model that they should be incorporating it?
No, but we can extrapolate from twitch, and guess that it probably would be.
> Many creators don't use Patreon in spite of or to replace ads, they use it as a supplement.
Because it is a third party site, there is no such option. It would be trivial to incorporate an ad-free experience for donations/subscriptions similar to how twitch does.
This exists, already competes with Twitch, and is part of an even bigger portfolio of media services from Google. You're arguing for Google to do something they have been doing for years.
You're vastly overestimating what people will actually pay for and underestimating how big and critical the ads industry is.
From a business side, they really haven’t done too much.
What's with the persistent narrative of google not being "just another company" and then (sadly?) becoming one? that's some fairytale nonsense.
The last time someone asked me what it’s like to work there, I said “it’s just a job” on instinct.
It's better for the company to help the delusional embrace the "it's just a job" mentality ASAP so that they and the rest of us might be spared the weekly public hissy fit.
This was their response: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14540332
It's well worth a read.
I liked Google as a company a lot better during Schmidt's tenure as well. Best of luck to him in his next role.
There's plenty of reasons for why they started taking place, that have nothing to do with who is CEO. Societal expectations have changed, formerly unpopular ideas gained both a voice, and mindshare, and Google's influence over the Internet has grown - and with it, expectations that that influence should be wielded responsibly.
Intelligent people strongly disagree as to what 'responsibly' means in this context.
The responsibility for corporate culture is ultimately with the CEO and the board.
He also wrote this, to make it clear that he knew he was doing wrong: [let's share this with competitors] "verbally, since I don't want to create a paper trail over which we can be sued later?"
He was also the one who, with a straight face, said "if you don't have anything to hide, you don't have anything to fear" in response to widespread surveillance. Of course, he would not then open himself up to any scrutiny.
How can you have a large scale security breach with a brutal tech hiring process, sky high salaries and a whitepaper-producing workforce? Hell, when you interview at much smaller firms, the tech groups copycat the Google hiring techniques, that's the extent of the influence. Google is a reference implementation that everyone copycats.
Then is the Pixel 3's lack of creative innovation symbolic of a strong tech culture that seems to prize science and tech over creativity? For reference, they copied the iPhone in numerous ways aesthetically and marketing-wise: the size is identical, glass replaced metal, the price was pumped up to make it appear premium, even the color names have goofy Apple-y names, etc.
Ad revenue is not down. Ad revenue is growing slower than in the past.
> How can you have a large scale security breach with a brutal tech hiring process, sky high salaries and a whitepaper-producing workforce?
Security is stupendously hard. It is also not a stable state. Software engineering as a discipline does not have methods of turning dollars into security with confidence. There is no company on the planet that avoids getting pwned.
It's also a second degree derivative, which is inherently noisy. A single data point isn't enough to show a trend.
> Security is stupendously hard.
It also wasn't a breach. Breach implies it was exploited. They actually found the bug and fixed it, and there was as far as they could there no signs that it was abused.
Google has some of the best security security researchers out there. Look at Project Zero, they've found the majority of the largest zero days in the past few years.
As would be expected from the class of hackers that would be able to exploit it.
They've become bloated.
Isn't that true for a large amount of large tech companies?
I was under the impression that a large amount of the workers are working on incremental improvements to existing services or working on new features/services entirely. If those people stop working that shouldn't disrupt the service and you shouldn't see the revenue fall until a competitor catches up & out innovates.
It's possible to give the appearance of being busy and valuable if you make every project way more complex than it needs to be by scheduling lots of meetings that end up mostly involving bike shedding, publishing lots of design docs and spreadsheets to gain visibility, submitting mediocre code so that you can subsequently submit lots of cleanup CLs, and so on. The game is easier to play these days because the company is so large that entire teams can go off the radar and not have to be accountable.
This happens at every big company and it isn't the norm at Google, but it happens quite often. It's really hard to fire employees, and a pain for managers. It's way easier to just let them be, and for a low-mid level manager that can even make it easier for them to justify additional headcount, which makes their org bigger and increases their standing.
But I've seen people just temporarily work really hard and/or get lots of help while they're on a PIP, succeed at it, and then revert to old habits. In a lot of cases rather than go through the trouble to put a report through a PIP, which may not have the desired outcome anyway, the manager will just put them off in a corner and give them unimportant tasks, making it that much easier for them to just coast.
Because when you are billions-of-dollars profitable, and you go ahead and fire a lot of people, it tanks morale, and good performers start looking for the door. (Note: This does not hold in the middle of a recession. We aren't in the middle of a recession, though.)
Because a company could be just as successful without XY% of its workforce, but nobody can correctly identify which XY%. (This one still holds in the middle of a recession.)
Because a lot of that XY% would be more productive, if they were instructed to do something that's more useful to the bottom line.
1 - https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/20/google-bought-manhattans-c...
If you want to talk expansion, look at the new Hudson Square expansion about a mile south of Chelsea Market: https://www.theverge.com/2018/12/17/18144448/google-nyc-camp...
Do all your friends who work there include themselves in the 30% by any chance? I assume not. And I also assume whoever you ask they will also say 30% could be fired, but they will then also all say it should not of course be themselves...
Wasn't it a security vulnerability? IIRC they were returning data they shouldn't have for some calls, but didn't have conclusive evidence that anyone had ever made those calls because of log rotation policies. (Maybe I misremembered, or maybe you're talking about a different issue?)
From the press release: https://abc.xyz/investor/news/releases/2019/0430/
There was a hilarious moment at the company meeting when rank-and-file learned from the news that Eric and Larry met with Trump. Somebody demanded explanation, as if it is something strange that business leaders meet with the president. Sundar mumbled something like "yes, I didn't know they are going to meet, but this was a single meeting and many business leaders attended...". Eric rushed on stage and said "To clarify: I met with President Trump more than once, bla bla".
I’d never heard of Bill Campbell before, seems like he was a huge influence around Silicon Valley.
The book is also a great way to understand why Twitter is such a shit show of an organization. The fundamental mismanagement from day one until now also shows the power of finding product/market fit. As the saying goes, you can mess everything else up and still succeed.
I would love recommendations for similar books that aren't just hagiographies of startups/tech giants.
Hard to compare Eric and Larry as CEOs because they both led at very different times in the company’s history, each with their own unique set of challenges.
His contemporary Hohenzollern monarch (Wilhelm's II predecessor) largely allowed Bismark to take free reign over diplomacy, recognizing him as a generational talent.
If Bismarck was an ideological juggler, capable of accepting political loss in the short-term to catch out his adversaries in the long-term, Wilhelm was a firebrand, who refused to play games with "the enemy" (especially the Russians), even if they benefited the long-term survival of his state and person.
The cartoon shows Bismarck stepping off the ship, leaving Wilhelm to take over. While this is perhaps an unflattering characterization of Bismarck, it reflects that, even in 1890, it was known that Wilhelm would not be able to lead the nation better than this forcibly-retired titan of European diplomacy.
Bismarck probably could have stayed on the ship, because its sailors were largely aligned with him, but he was getting old (75 when he retired); and he tired of suffering the youth and ignorance of the not-so-subtle monarch. His most immediate, and unfortunate legacy was the black hole he left unfilled.
The aftermath was a complete lack of long-term thinking, that led to all the European countries (even Russia!! who had a hard time getting along with the UK/France in particular) agreeing to form alliances against Germany. It's quite reasonable to point to Bismarck's departure as the first big slip down the slippery slope that led to WWI.
Compare this to Eric Schmidt leaving Google (filled with young Wilhelm IIs?) how you will.
Google's problem now is that anything smaller than a billion-dollar business is not on their radar screen, which means that by definition they are going to miss the next growth industry. And they don't really have anyone in the company who can do anything about that, because you don't go to Google because you want to work on the small problem that might become big, you go to Google because you want to work on big problems.
That seems quite wrong, given that: 1. Google can buy into growth opportunities by making aquisitions. 2. Google is invested in many, many pre-billion-dollar businesses.
The analogy with software is right-on, in my view. He crated a system that was complex, sure, but very manageable and powerful if you understood it in sufficient detail.
For a fast-and-loose comparison, he was running foreign policy in Vim/Emacs, while his contemporaries were using Notepad, and of course he did a damned good job. His biggest fault is that he never taught any of his subordinates how to use Vim/Emacs.
He didn't seem to have a succession plan for himself. It's a mystery to me why (hubris, lack of interest?), but it regardless goes down as a fault against him, IMO.
It's in many ways a good story for tech.
Every year, the British commonwealth celebrates the end of that war.
Every year, I ask why after the war, the public didn't string up every one of the leaders that was responsible for plunging the world into that pointless, industrial bloodbath. The silence I hear is, sadly, deafening.
Nobody cares to actually look at what caused that war. Nobody wants, or wanted to hold anyone accountable. The world collectively shrugged its shoulders, and forgot all about it.
And all that schoolkids here are taught is "The noble British Empire led the glorious allied fight against some bad German people because reasons, here's some pictures of trenches, sometimes soldiers played soccer, now shut up and don't ask any more uncomfortable questions."
I also find it truly repulsive that so many people in this country keep repeating the lie that Canada was "born on Vimy Ridge", as if sending wave after wave of terrified and browbeaten conscripts to die in some shell-blasted hellhole is what "made" us. I'd argue that the true birth of Canada was the Suez Canal crisis, when we openly defied the motherland on the world stage and instead spearheaded a peaceful solution to the mess via an international consensus.
Fun fact: the Canadian politician who led that peaceful solution to the Suez crisis and would later keep Canada out of the Vietnam War, Lester Pearson, volunteered as a field medic for most of WW1. I can't think of any job more likely to permanently rewire one's brain into a "Never again!" orientation.
Press release: https://abc.xyz/investor/news/releases/2019/0430/