Is Google’s Size Becoming a Problem?
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.
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.