Is Google’s Size Becoming a Problem?

Google Continues to Lose Employees to (Smaller) Facebook

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Is Google getting too big to maintain its position as the top player on the web? That is the basic topic of a great deal of discussion going around the Blogosphere as the company has lost a couple more high-profile employees in Kate Vale and Lars Rasmussen from Google Australia. 

Is Google getting too big? Tell us what you think

Rasmussen is going to Facebook after being recruited by Mark Zuckerberg himself, and Vale reportedly has not confirmed or denied that she will go to Facebook too, though it is speculated by some that she will. 

It’s not news that Google and Facebook have become increasingly competitive in capturing Internet users’ and marketers’ attention. Both companies have played down this notion, and there is certainly room for both, but Google hasn’t seen a rival like Facebook in the past. And that rival is stealing away a lot of Google’s talent. About 1 in 5 Facebook employees are former Googlers by some counts, Seth Weintraub at Fortune notes.  

Comments made by Rasmussen in the Sydney Morning Herald shed some light on his reasons for leaving. One was the killing of his project – Google Wave, which showed a great deal of potential, but couldn’t convince enough people that it was a necessary tool (to be fair Google has indicated that the technology behind Wave would find its way into other Google products). Another reason hinted at was that Google is becoming too big, and thereby making it harder to get things done. 

"In short, Google is no longer a startup — it is now a company like any other — and one with a sizable headcount: More than 400 in Australia and 25,000 globally," writes Renai LeMay at Delimiter. "It is struggling to get new products to market, or even to keep up to date with its existing product set — look at the poor adoption of Google Apps in corporate Australia, for example (because of its lack of local hosting), or the delays pushing its Netbook operating system, Chrome OS, into irrelevance."

"Or even the way that it appears unable to get updates for its Android handsets pushed out through manufacturers in a timely fashion," LeMay adds.

For the record, I’m not sure I’m ready to call Chrome OS irrelevant before it’s even had a chance, but LeMay is not alone in these opinions. 

Obviously Google disagrees with such notions. Google Australia’s head of engineering, Alan Noble, is quoted as saying, "I think it would be a bit unfair to say we’re slowing down – if anything I think we’re speeding up because we’ve got the capabilities to do more and more." Noble also indicated that Google Australia’s engineering team alone was set to expand by 40-50% next year.

Given the rate at which Google cranks out new products and features (and maybe this is easier to see from here in Google’s home, the U.S.), it’s hard for me to say they’re slowing down. 

Google Products

Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land has an interesting article comparing Google’s "growing up" to Yahoo’s, and looking ahead to Facebook’s. "In Google’s case, despite the losses, the company is arguably stronger than it has ever been in many ways," he says. "Perhaps it will get even stronger. Possibly, it will decline, as the competitive space around it grows. But the departures alone don’t guarantee doom, just as when the inevitable Facebook departures happen, neither will they."

It is true that Google is getting a lot more competition these days, from many different angles, whether it be from Facebook, from Apple, from Microsoft (Eric Schmidt recently said Bing is Google’s main competitor), from Yahoo, from a growing number of mobile apps, etc. However, let’s not overlook the fact that Google is acquiring new talent just as fast (if not faster) than it is losing it. 

I believe Google’s acquired close to 25 companies this year – a great many of them talent-based to improve existing offerings. Android and Chrome are blossoming. Google TV has gotten off to a somewhat rocky start, thanks to the networks, but there is still a great deal of potential there. We’ve yet to see the extent of these "Google Me" social layers Google is supposedly adding to its arsenal. YouTube just surpassed a billion subscriptions. The list goes on. 

Is Google really in trouble? What do you think? Comment here.


Is Google’s Size Becoming a Problem?
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  • Ally

    Google Wave was killed?? Man that sucks. I still use it for several projects and I like it alot, but I think they’re biggest issue was not just rolling that out as a new add on for gmail. Try to make it another product that you have to sign up for and set up separate contacts for, etc. etc. made it a pain. I hope that it makes it’s way into gmail. I think the technology has a lot of potential to be the primary way people communicate in the future as long as you can use your current logins and contacts.

    • Chris Crum

      While Wave couldn’t seem to find mainstream appeal, it definitely had its audience. It was pretty surprising when they killed it so quickly, though I don’t think we’ve seen the last of it. It will be back in one form or another. Apparently, there are no plans to do anything Wave-like at Facebook (although the recently launched Facebook Groups have drawn a few comparisons).

  • Randall

    Google has some minor management problems like any other company. I think most of these problems are not to hard to resolve. The big issue today is being more sensitive to things that effect PR. My only big issue with Google is that the employees don’t monitor the help forums enough. This is important since this is the only way provide help.

    • Chris Crum

      Real-time customer service chat is always nice.

  • Guest

    google is too big. they must go down

  • http://www.lerentech.com Lerentech

    I was always told that size didn’t matter :)

  • http://www.londondigitalpr.com Monique Lester

    Google has become such a huge force that there is no such thing as customer service. It’s a problem. The lack of response of responsibility is leading to the ability for cyber criminals to get away with crime for a long time before there is any response, if in fact there ever is one. Some social media sites are very responsive and act with integrity, but getting hold of anyone at Google is a nightmare.

    Facebook is not far behind. Support addresses and emails are very tough to find and contact is slow. If internet giants exist they also have a duty of care to those using the services.

    • http://www.adilhameed.com Adil

      Hey Lester

      You are right there is no customer service from Google. No contact nos. are available neither any email addresses. On the other hand Twitter has a good customer support, even it is also getting bigger and bigger.
      For example my blogs are blocked, I did not find any address to mail them and can ask for reactivate my blogs. They just sent an email that your blogs are spam blogs, reasons given through a link and you just read on and on and on. Link after link in help section is also a nightmarish situation. You did not find an easy and exact answer for your problem in help section as well.

      The Google must look into this and work on this issue.

      • seo monkey

        Read the google terms and conditions in blocking blogs and websites, make sure your blogs are not qualified as spam or scam. If not, check and modify your webmaster tool settings.

  • Google Contractor

    The problem at Google is they’ve taken on an army of salespeople who aren’t under any pressure to sell stuff because the business has one or two massively profitable “rivers of gold”.

    In many ways it’s similar to Microsoft with Redmond’s five hundred levels of management, except MS at least defines the management structure.

    That Australian website Delimiter has a good breakdown of the problem in a later post;


    I noticed this when I was doing some work with their Asian Pacific operations out of Singapore and Sydney earlier this year; dozens of sales people with fancy titles who, while hard-working and intelligent, really don’t have much to do.

    This problem must really irritate the engineers as the sales people, because of their blurred lines of responsibility, don’t sell products like Wave and rely on giving freebies to colleges in order to make “big sales”.

    It’s going to be interesting to see how Google go selling into the enterprize, they need to push their salesfolk a bit harder though to compete.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_NKfavnWvI Google XFactor

    Google’s help Rap. Does it help? Take a look see if it helps you. What next for Google the X-Factor?

    YouTube video link

  • http://wesavemoney4u.com Mike

    Like any large corporation, Google has become too big for it’s britches. It has a power over the internet that can potentially raise questions about ethical behavior on the internet. The problem is that the internet itself is vast and society has become used to it’s convenience as well as Google’s presence. I don’t think that Google can be broken up, however, like a physical corporation. Some may remember the break up of AT&T in the ’80’s. That could never be done with Google.

  • http://www.byfchat.com Jay

    I use both Facebook and Google but for different reasons. One I use for social networking and the other for information. I think they are exclusive from one another and each has differentiated enough from the other. I doubt Google has much to worry about.

  • http://addmine.com.au Kendo

    It’s not their size… it’s their greed. They were making too much money and like any entity whose prime objective is the share market, they make a lot of noise about their worth. Thus we have a lot of advertising about new developments and growing popularity when in fact they have developed very little that is new and almost nothing that is worthwhile.

    They have totally ruined search engine results and millions of online entities have suffered while they favor and cultivate an advertising network which if anything, has only incited web pollution by dangling possible advertising income in the face of fools and also breed a new sub-culture called SEO consultants who wouldn’t know how to optimize a paper bag. We had SEO ten years ago and nothing has changed except crooked results by Google.

    I say good riddance to Google and look forward to everyone’s move… as soon as possible!

    • seo monkey

      Maybe google’s relevant results doesn’t favor your sites, better consult to these “sub cultured seo consultants” they can help you, promise!

      This is just in case your tired paying to other search engines to get results on their irrelevant search engine… just my thought.

      Thanks to Google for always giving relevant results, it really saves me more time and to avoid spammy websites being pushed by trying hard spamming dreamy fake web developers

  • http://www.ringwoodpropertyservices.com.au Andrew

    I don’t think Google is really slowing down. What is slowing down is any form of customer service from them in regards to adword accounts and the like.

  • http://www.bigears.net.au Big Ears

    In Australia we love the underdog and in this case Google is not the underdog. Businesses love Google because it saved them from that terrible giant Yellow Pages (print version) but, if Google has the same attitude as Yellow Pages then they too will be loathed.

    My personal opinion is that I believe that Google is doing a fantastic job with search results compared to the rest of them. You can pretty much find what you are looking for first go.

    I also believe that Facebook won’t survive in Australia as a major search platform. It is complicated for the new user. It can take up a lot of time and currently we live in a country where time is money.

    On saying that, if I didn’t put my name on Facebook I never would have been notified about my School Reunion. I look at it as being a “Keeping Connected Tool” or a “People Finder Tool”.

    Google’s latest move regarding indexing, utilising the maps, is a great move for the user but suicide for SEO companies. Apparently there will only be four organic listings on the first page of Google and I have heard that it may be reduced to two or even none.

    I think the user has everything they need in Google so they wont desert to Facebook exclusively. They don’t have everything in Facebook so they will desert to Google exclusively.

  • Guest

    Google has, and always will, be reliant on PPC. This is where the income comes from. At some point shareholders will question the projects that google invests in and whether they will ever return money. If google does not have the clout, then advertisers will slowly start to gravitate away from Google.

    Click fraud is the biggest issue, too many companies over the next few years will start to realise that the actual click throughs that convert are reducing.

    Research, in the UK, suggests that 60/70% of people do not click through to the “paid” sections but pick from the organic lists.

    Unless Google starts to seriously concentrate on the black hat SEO companies that get to the first page then their whole business model will fall apart.

    I dont think they will become an IBM, but their number 1 position will not last.

  • http://www.makeasizzlingewebsite.cm Mark Demers

    Do you really think Google is in trouble ? My view is they are not in any trouble.

    Their hiring is fast , they took over 25 businesses this year,they keep offering new services.
    To me that says they`re not in any trouble.
    Maybe they should hire to expand their services.Quit slapping marketers and quit changing their (Google)search criteria. That would help them compete more with Facebook .

  • Barrett Powell

    With regard to Google, it isn’t so much size as much as it is complexity of offerings. Google simply has too many. If there were an integrated story to tell, how you might use the tools as a seamless solution it would be different. But it is not that way, at least in perception.

    Too many Google tools seem like an idea looking for a solution. As a techie and a Google beta tester, I for one really enjoy new and cutting edge technologies. I like to look at a technology and figure out a business problem it might solve. But I am not the average user out there.

    The Android OS is a great example. It is a techies dream, having such a flexible and customizable capability on your mobile device is great. It appeals to techies and early adopters. But if you want cross the chasm and reach the masses you have to make it simple and work. It is touch to try and appeal to both techies and the masses but that is exactly what Google must do. It is what made Facebook work.

  • http://mcbargainelectronics.com Mario C.

    If Google was as big as they say, I wouldn’t be using:
    -Windows XP (work) 7 (home)
    -Windows live mail (contacts, email templates, export to csv, email rules, calendar, etc)
    -Windows live messenger (work, home)
    -yahoo store (work)
    -yahoo email (work)
    -MS AdCenter
    -Adobe CS4 Suite (work/home)
    -And a lot more products and services that have nothing to to with Google.

  • Juan dela Cruz

    Yes I agree, Google’s size is really a problem! Because other search engines and aspiring social networks cannot easily penetrate google’s market. I type Facebook first on google search engine to visit this site, which concludes to another question; How many computers/internet browser’s home page are set to Google vs. Facebook? that will tell the current status of google today. My homepage will always be Google, but I love Facebook.

    Facebook connects individuals, while Google builds the world.

  • Guest

    Well, to be fair, one time I was kissing a girl and she farted. I wondered if I should break up with her so I posted a question on Yahoo answers. An hour later, I got a reply saying “We need to talk. Call me NOW!” After we talked, everything was cool.

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