Having a Mission vs. Answering to Investors

or why Google couldn't even do what it said it originally wanted to do after going public.

Yahoo launched a service the other day to help us search for apps.

Twitter has no meaningful or useful search.

Facebook search is somehow even less useful than Twitter's.

Google Plus is ruining traditional search.

Apple's attempt at searching for iOS apps (on iOS devices or through iTunes) is a joke.

The app marketplace on mobile phones is growing year after year across all platforms.

Where is the one search company that was supposed to help us search the world's information? Off launching its own Bing of the 2010s.

Instead of adapting to the marketplace and helping us find the things we need across the expanded ecosystem that includes the web, the private-ish web and the mobile internet, Google has gone AWOL. It has decided it can't get deals with companies so it has given up. If the open web is dead, as Google surmises, then traditional Google is dead too and it simply needs to move forward.

But let's think about this. Why possibly could this once mighty and lovable giant of the web now be the company no one wants to partner with? In the quest for continued growth, Google has HAD to expand into newer and stranger markets to satisfy investors. Do investors want a company that answers to its mission or one that returns increasingly high profit numbers? We have met the answer and it is crap. Investors want an entity, regardless of what it does, that returns increasingly higher revenue growth numbers. Period. The lesson to learn from this? Don't go public if you care about a mission.

I'm not just talking about electric cars. I'm talking about things like Maps and Youtube and Android. It's no wonder that it's pretty fucking difficult to get companies like Apple to share their App store data with you so that you could crawl it and make it searchable when you're trying to build a platform to destroy them. It's no wonder Twitter and Facebook don't want to give you data when they both understand that you're actively trying to defeat them. And we're all worse for it.

We didn't NEED Google to do Maps or Blogger or Youtube. All these services were private things swallowed up by the Googlenaut in what was probably an early understanding of the eventual AOL cross-pollination/social-networkization of everything. To big corporations, the odd years were when the free and open web reigned supreme. The normal times are when services like Prodigy, Compuservere, AOL, MSN and later Twitter, Apple, Facebook and Google dominate people's networked world. B to B, not B to C. And good heavens no C to C!

We don't need Google to do self-driving cars. Maybe Google research will create something just unimaginably awesome. But then again they might be like Microsoft research who has pretty much been wasting literally billions of dollars picking their noses. Sure, they drive incremental improvements in productivity and usability and stuff like that, but no jetpacks have come out of there and it's safe to say they never will (unless they're featured in one of their "future" videos.) What we need Google to do is use all that engineering talent and minimal clutter ethos to help us search through and find the information we want. Somehow along the way Google lost their way, believing machines were always the answer (people there have famously went on about machine shit when it's just clear to everyone that they're just wrong) and that by bitching in public about how everyone was leaving the open web and not "sharing with them" something would change. Well, it ain't gonna change. You can't be a competitor to everyone and eat your cake too. It turns out with everyone scared you're going to step onto their turf they're less likely to negotiate deals with you. They'd rather give users of the Internet (including themselves) a shittier life experience, with things that integrate less or are proprietary (FB's -graph initiatives) than deal with you. Some have called this type of problem a strategy tax. I call it the public tax. You give up your ability to achieve your mission (or at least say you fought the good fight) when you go public AND decide you're going to care about satisfying your investors. And if you think Plus Your World is the right direction then you're fucking crazy.

Search is broken. Useful search is over. Thanks, Google.