Google Backlash Rearing Its Head

    August 24, 2005

This question has been tossed around recently because it seems there are some who are trying to knock the current big dog down a few pegs.

There have been a number of articles calling Google’s method of doing business into question, starting with the Google taking on Microsoft’s role of villain article, written by Gary Rivlin of The New York Times. In his article, Rivlin tells Bill Gates not to worry because Google is or is becoming the object of scorn, although I’m confused as to why.

To supplement his point, Rivlin points to how people are used to rooting for the underdog and now that Google has shed that moniker (Google is the exact opposite at the moment), people are beginning to root against the portal that masks itself as a search engine ;). In fact, Rivlin uses a quote from Bill Gates to further illustrate what he is trying to say:

Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, sees similarities between Google and his own company. This spring, in an interview with Fortune, Gates said that Google was “more like us than anyone else we have ever competed with.”

Apparently, Google has provided Microsoft with the most competition they’ve seen since the Netscape days. How is this a bad thing or in anyway Google’s fault? I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t consider a search engine started in college dorm room and then rising to the position Google is in a faulty quality.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I also don’t remember Google crushing a competitor the way Microsoft did Netscape, who happens to still be in business, contrary to Rivlin’s report. Rivlin also points out how Google is dominating Silicon Valley from a hiring point of view. Apparently, start-ups in the San Jose area are having a hard time recruiting talent and venture capital, all because of Google’s presence. It seems that these start-ups can’t find talent because they are either considering an offer from Google or Google has driven the pay scale up so high, it’s difficult for a start-up to meet the salary demands of the talent that is available.

Danny Sullivan has a good suggestion for start-up companies having a hard time in Southern California: “Try starting up in a less expensive place than Silicon Valley!”

Another area of concern is Google’s stock adventures. Google+Search”>Currently trading at $283.46, many see the GOOG stock price is inflated. There is also speculation/worry about what Google is planning to do with the extra $4 billion they are attempting to raise. What will they use it for and why? Perhaps the nationwide Wi-Fi excursion that’s been talked about has something to do with Google’s new stock sell-off. I would imagine buying the necessary equipment to start a free Wi-Fi service that covers the continental United States would be kind of pricey.

As for Google’s stock being inflated, I’ll leave that debate to the market experts. However, it should be noted that Google’s earnings are continually strong. Granted a great deal of this money is made through its AdWords/AdSense advertising services, but perhaps that also gives some insight into why Google is expanding so much. It’s hard to put all of your eggs in one basket, especially when it comes to multi-billion dollar businesses.

Another area of concern is Google’s data collection and what they do with this information. My question is this: why is Google the only Internet company that gets grief over this? Doesn’t Yahoo and MSN scan every email that comes to through their servers? What happens to all of this information? Do they do what Google doesn’t do and discard it? Highly unlikely. People also bring up Google’s storing of information related to all things search. Apparently, Google keeps all of the information about every query being done with their multitude of search services. Are we to believe that Yahoo and MSN do not? A simple glance at Yahoo’s privacy policy reveals:

Yahoo! collects personal information when you register with Yahoo!, when you use Yahoo! products or services, when you visit Yahoo! pages or the pages of certain Yahoo! partners, and when you enter promotions or sweepstakes. Yahoo! may combine information about you that we have with information we obtain from business partners or other companies.

It appears as if Yahoo also keeps the information they collect as well. Is there an anti-Yahoo article calling their data collecting practices out on the horizon?

On the other hand, it is also foolish to think Google is without fault. Remember the autolink debate or the Google web accelerator debacle? However, calling Google out for expanding their product and hiring a talented staff (although, Sergey Brin did admit to John Battelle that Google’s hiring spree may have been overzealous) almost comes across as sour grapes.

Perhaps, like Danny suggests, these critiques are much ado about nothing. In his post, Danny mentions Google has been facing negative feedback for years. Perhaps these latest rounds of articles exist to provide an up-to-date counter-point to Google’s perceived public image.

Chris Richardson is a search engine writer and editor for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.