The Future of Google: Golden City of Innovation or Corporate Black Hole?

September 19 2008 / by Mielle Sullivan / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Business & Work   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

Google has been the Golden City of Silicon Valley and indeed the whole world wide web for the past several years.  The savvy start-up that grew from a garage in Menlo Park to one of the biggest companies in the world in less than a decade is not only a business wunderkind, but a cultural icon whose name has become a verb for finding information on the Internet. Yet as Google’s rise to fame attests, the Internet is a fast and fickle place where a good new idea can change everything.

In a recent interview with Mad Money host Jim Cramer, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that Google can avoid the flat-line in growth that eventually plagued it’s high tech giant predecessors IBM & Microsoft.  Google will accomplish this, Schmidt says, through increasingly targeted advertising, breaking into new businesses and keeping to the mantra of not being “evil.”

Is this a realistic forecast? Can its very size and success be a detriment to Google’s innovation? Can it really conquer new markets?  Though the company’s stock has consistently outperformed expectations and grew an impressive 26% last quarter, there are some tell-tale signs that Google’s empire is not immune to the forces of time or economics.

Innovation by Acquisition: By Schmidt’s own admission, Google will need to innovate at a high rate to remain competitive.  The company has released several products in the last few years including Gmail, Google Earth, Google Docs (which I am using to type this article), Google Calendar, Knol, and most recently its web browser Chrome.  But much, if not the bulk, of the company’s innovation has been generated through acquisitions.  While many of the purchases have been a big boon for Google, i.e. DoubleClick is estimated to have brought in $90 million dollars for Google last year, several of the innovative companies acquired have mysteriously entered the ever widening Google black hole.  Jaiku, a twitter-like micro-blogging company was purchased in October of 2007  and is still closed to new users. GrandCentral a site the allows you integrate all your phone numbers and voicemail boxes into one account, accessible from the web, had a markedly similar fate. Even Blogger, once the king of blogs, has withered from lack of development and upgrading since being acquired. It now seems doomed to forever live in the shadow of it’s successors Wordpress and Movable Type. 

A quick look at this comprehensive list of Google’s acquisitions reveals many great ideas that either are dead in the black hole, being developed by Google, or in use but just not being promoted. It’s hard to say which, but considering how old some of these acquisitions are and how quickly the Internet world moves, even in the best case scenario of “development” Google is proving it simply hasn’t been able integrate and develop it’s acquisitions quickly enough.

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