Doug Garnett’s Blog


Google Says its Internal Development is Struggling

I’ve been interested by the industry hoopla surrounding Google’s vaunted approach to development. Maybe “interest” is the wrong word. Because whenever the innovator books worship a company’s policies, I get suspicious.

The Wizard’s at Google search for revenue by buying companies.

It appears these suspicions may be well founded. Bloomberg reports that Google is acquiring companies to drive growth because internal developments aren’t delivering. Interesting. In fact, 2nd quarter results for Google show a 22% increase in internal development spending – probably hoping more money will solve the problem. Something ain’t quite right in Silicon Valley Heaven.

I’ve suspected development problems at Google for years. A lot of outsiders worship Google’s current development ethos. But that process isn’t the one that led to their highly successful initial development. And their current process works on some flavor of the theory that anarchy creates profit. (Reviewing several millennia of history doesn’t uncover historical precedent for this idea.)

To cap off this mix, Google never communicates the few developments that somehow rise through the anarchy to deliver significant potential value (as I noted in this article).

So, let’s please stop suggesting that Google’s discovered some unusual development magic – it’s clear they haven’t.

Only the internal team at Google can estimate the effectiveness of this new increase in spending. But, it appears it will only payout if their executive team can rein in a corporate culture that appears ready to party straight into the ditch.

Copyright 2010 – Doug Garnett

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  • Posted: August 22, 2010 21:11

    M. Edward (Ed) Borasky

    Yeah ... although looks to me like Google's upper management is moving towards a more Jack Welch - GE - accountability hierarchy style of management. They killed Wave because it was junk, they stopped selling the Nexus One, and they recognized that they weren't going to be able to take on AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, T-Mobile etc. so they came to a "negotiated agreement" with Verizon over "net neutrality". Don't get me wrong. They've still got a lot of problems - China, for one, tough privacy laws in Europe for another. Microsoft is gaining on them in search and Facebook could take big chunks out of their advertising revenue. And it's not clear to me whether they can make both Android and ChromeOS platforms into market leaders. But it looks to me like they're not afraid to take losers out behind the barn and shoot them any more. It's a start. ;-)
    • Posted: August 23, 2010 17:49

      Doug Garnett

      Agree, Ed. What's written of their development approach reminds me of the stories (it was before my time) of a chaotic range of parallel projects all competing for attention during the years when Floating Point lost its market lead. Sounded like the executive management decided not to choose a strategy, but to waste money on multiples. But I wasn't there to know if that's really true. ...Doug