In a blog post written yesterday James Whittaker, a former Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) executive and current Partner Development Manager at Microsoft, has said that Larry Page’s period at the reigns of the search giant has ruined the company. The post, entitled “Why I left Google”, is a discussion of the way Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has changed in recent years and how the changes have left both employees and the company’s customer base feeling devalued and taken for granted. His argument is summed uo in his thirp paragraph, “The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.”, he explains this conclusion throughout the piece.
Google’s projests over the last few years have certainly changed their focus. Whitttaker puts this down to competing with Facebook. Google had to compete with a platform that could command the customers attention for longer and could collect more information from them. Facebook’s information collection policy is a simple one that Google hasn’t quite figured out. People volunteer their information to Facebook. Whittaker has seen Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) become almost single minded in its wish to collect its customer’s information in the same way. Everything under Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has been driving toward a more social experience without much consideration for user experience or privacy.
This drive for a more social experience which Google had failed in with its traditional innovation methods. It’s earlier attempts at social networking, Buzz and Wave along with its project Orkut which never took off for the company. After these failures Google drove for social networking like it never had before. Larry Page took the reigns of the project to become Google+ and streamlined the company’s strategy to accomadate it. Google Labs was closed along with several other projects which worked in more creative type projects that were not readily profitable.
So in Whittaker’s estimation Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has become an ad company, and in becoming one has lost what made it special. For investors a more streamlined and business friendly Google may seem like a good thing but it may have lost something in the change. Google’s past performance has been based on two major concepts, usability and innovation. These two allowed them to grow some of the best essential web services out there almost monopolizing the searc, mail and maps markets. A streamlined Goolge may be better in the short term but if the company has truly lost sight of user experience as a primary goal and innovation en masse as the only way to establish great content then the company may truly be in trouble down the road.
Google has bet a lot of its resources in the smartphone market, competing against Apple for domination, but as the newer generation of the devices arrive withe Microsoft’s Windows 8 platform the company may face more competition than it can take. Is Whittaker right? Has Google lost its edge and become as many tech bloggers have suggested “the new microsoft?”. Investors should watch this space closely as any small turn in the company’s fortunes may be a sign of a slowing Google.
His last post on Google+: