Ways for Google to return to its start-up roots

Tue, Mar 29, 2011


With soon to be Google CEO Larry Page vocally tryingto return Google to its start-up roots, a post from a former Google employee on Slacy’s Blog details a number of things the search engine behemoth can do to return to its start-up ways.

Google has a very, very strong NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome.  Alternate solutions (Hadoop, MongoDB, Redis, Cassandra, MySQL, RabbitMQ, etc.) are all seen as technically inferior and poorly engineered systems. Google needs to get off it’s high horse, and look at what’s happening outside of it’s organization.  Hugely scalable services like Twitter are built on almost entirely open source stack, and they’re doing it really efficiently.  Open source solutions have a product-focus that’s missing from much of Google’s infrastructure for infrastructure’s sake engineering endeavors.  Focusing on the product first, and using any available solution is the agile way to experiment in new spaces.

Another interesting tidbit from Slacy (name: Stephen Lacy) is that Google is too preoccupied with billion dollar ideas at the expense of great ideas that lack the potential to rake in the big bucks.

This is soimportant.  One of the things I heard over and over was “If your product isn’t a billion-dollar idea, then it’s not worth Google’s time.”  This message sucks.  What you’re saying is “your great idea that might make millions per year is less important than a small tweak to ads or search”.  Even if it’s true, you need to foster innovation of much lesser initial impact.

Google acquisitions of companies in the $5-50mm range means that at some level, small businesses arevalued.  Make this very clear.  It sucks to have someone say “your $5mm idea isn’t big enough” on the one hand, and then watch Google buy up companies for $5mm each. This is bad precedent.

Check out Slacy’s full list of suggestions over here. It’s a fascinating read about Google from an insider’s perspective.


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