Ganging Up on Google

Rob Hof

Is it me, or does it seem like Google-bashing is the newest sport? People everywhere seem to be finding lots of shortcomings in the Internet search giant's dealings lately. And this time it's not just publishers, but fellow tech folks.

After finding both Google Base and Google analytics wanting, VC Fred Wilson concludes: "Google is lame." Mike Arrington says "yuck" to Google Base. Ethan Stock of Zvents, frustrated with how Google's managing its acquired analytics service, explodes:

"Google isn't acting like a real business, they are acting like an over-enthusiastic Golden Retriever puppy. Oh, they just knocked the vase off the table with their tail, but aren't they cute? Um, no. Google, grow up."

Mark Pincus really lays it on, saying that Base shows they've become "merely another big corporate titan." He continues:

"Like Microsoft, it's choosing to go for the gold, enriching their shareholders rather than enabling industries. ... In fact, Google feels a like Walmart today. Once the excitement over trying out their latest release wears off we are left with the realization that they are going to ultimately put the corner grocer (being craigslist) out of business, and suck value out of an economy not add back."

Me, I'm not sure why anybody assumed that a corporation, especially a successful one, would ever act in anything but its self-interest. That's not necessarily evil, it's just what corporations do, whether you like it or not. (And no, I don't especially like it all the time either.) But you know what? Investors seem to like it, since Google's stock just hit an all-time high.

Still, I think Google's problem, such as it is, is that it's sort of like the archetypal Silicon Valley engineers it hires: wicked smart but sometimes socially inept. "Google's the purest embodiment of innovation for its own sake," Netflix CEO Reid Hastings noted yesterday--not typical of Valley companies but instead far out on the tech edge of the Valley's business-technology spectrum. As funny as it sounds for a company that seems to mint money, business--meaning building relationships with other businesses--actually comes second. Sounds like that's going to have to change a little bit.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.