In Google We Trust or Not?

28 Comments

If you have been around long enough in Silicon Valley, you see this story play out again – a start-up rises out of nowhere, is championed by the technology elite, becomes a successful company, and one day becomes a market leader, a dominant force. The market reality runs smack into idealism, and what follows is disillusionment.

Now it is Google’s turn, it seems. The company is being hit hard by a left-right combination. The GMail outage, Orkut downtime, the Zeitgeist fiasco, and their attempt at self-promotion (aka house ads) are some of the dark clouds that are gathering over Google at the tailend of 2006, arguably search-and-advertising company’s best year ever.

In large part, the current problems, and this scrutiny stems from their idealistic corporate motto, Don’t be evil. As a publicly traded company, they are right to promote their own products. Yahoo, Ask, Comcast and AT&T – all promote their services, they just don’t hide behind an idealistic motto.

Idealism is often sacrificed at the altar of capitalism, and Google is at that fork in the road. It is time to drop that idealistic motto. When it comes to trust, in these cynical times, do we really trust anything, anyone or any corporation? I don’t… do you?

28 Comments

Max Pax

No, I don’t trust Google, Facebook, or any other web service that collects data. Data is currency. Google has become obsessed with its own quest for domination. Google has shown that it can make horrid mistakes. Now Google have bypassed ISP – who hold our IP addresses in safety, with their customised location “service” – an option that, according to Google, cannot be switched off. So now, Google are claiming that they know better than the web user when it comes to what the web user prefers – and the web user does not prefer an infringement upon their privacy.

I use Google search because it is Good, right. But I use use AdBlock, and I am looking into ways to search Google with a non-invasive proxy.

The Last Word (Beta)

Advertisements where you wouldn’t expect them…

The latest buzz doing the round of all the ‘well-known’ bloggers is how Google has begun pushing it’s own services. Unfortunately or not, this is true. If you do a search for anything which has a remo…

Paul Jardine

It’s probably going to be a tipping point for Google next year. Their internal culture encourages freedom, which is likely to lead to greater innovation, but also a greater number of c*ck-ups. Will the pressure for 24/7 reliability let the grey men/women in to Google? I certainly hope not, but when a company gets to the size of Google it’s hard to say ‘Ooops’ when you have shareholders and businesses screaming about a few hours of downtime. The natural reaction of management is to bring in more controls, but in the end it’s counterproductive.
Vive la differance! (apologies to those who can spell in french!)

Mrinal

It is really sad to see that there is no trust anymore anywhere. The good news for some is that it is THE competitive advantage that is inimitable.

No wonder people have such a disdain for Corporate America but then who makes it – I, you… We. One has to learn how to trust (and maybe get screwed if required) to earn it.

I highly recommend “Pour your Heart into it” by Howard Schultz on his story about himself and Starbucks or maybe some of us can “be the change you wish to see”

Lance

Here is the deal, I really don’t care if they display their services over others, what bothers me is how Google is bullying other companies when it comes to partnership. They are extremely arrogant and make you feel you are worthless until you form a one-sided partnership with them. It is uncanny how their attitude resembles Microsoft’s in the 80’s and 90’s. The powerful always gets corrupt no matter how “no evil” their nature was in the beginning; that’s human nature. I think a lot of us want to believe there is a Utopian company out there, but it ain’t. Google revived the Internet and introduced so many good things, no question about it, but it is time to give competition a chance; old and new.

Mike Puchol

I already wrote my concerns about the mix of Google tracking searches (they admitted that logs matching IP addresses to search terms could be provided if requested by law), GMail message contents being scanned and classified, and Google Analytics, providing Google with accurate tracking info, is too tempting to not do evil with.

Google now has the IP addresses you connect from matched to your search terms, the contents of your emails, and your visit and browsing habits on any website that uses Analytics. If this is not cause for concern…

katie

kid’s got a point. something to definitely ponder. it does seem a crossroads indeed. any predictions on outcome

kataie

kid’s got a point. something to definitely ponder. it does seem a crossroads indeed. any predictions on outcome?

Ashish

I trust Google as far as I can throw them.

The fact is, your average consumer loves Google. They don’t hear about all the BS they pull all the time. I have first and second hand accounts of them taking ideas from people they interview, taking ideas from companies they meet with, and generally doing things worse than other companies out there. If you work for Google, you love them. If you don’t and you work in tech, they are evil, plain and simple.

Tarry Singh

Om and others (Mike on his Techcrunch),

I think we should stop looking for UtopiaLand. There is no such thing. If you want to look at someone/something saying/professing “Do No Evil”, please turn to God/Faith. Its pretty pathetic to make an issue out of Google or any other company and start questioning its moral values.

So what if Google wants to sell its own product. You’re on their site (HELLLOOO http://www.google.com) doing your searches. And indeed you and others wouldn’t be whining if Larry would have been into the search business.

Enjoy your freedom as long as it lasts!

PS: You took my freedom to add my website’s address away in the comments anyways, so stop being hypocritical and don’t give me the “Oh, its the spam filter, who’s doing it”

Take care,

Tarry

rickdog

The Google tips are clearly separated from the organic content, and clearly marketed as a tip. I don’t see it as a problem. Compare that small amount of selfish content with the percentage of page real estate that you or Arrington and especially the Lockergnome devote to revenue generation. Give Google a break, it’s provided the web community with a free excellent service for years, has enriched all of our web lives. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

Ross

Trust is a relative thing. Of course you can’t be flawless on the whole “Don’t be evil” motto…what’s their market cap now, $170BB. Any organization involved with that kind of money is facing serious strategic, power politics–but at least they’re trying! And claiming that motto will make them think twice before doing anything shady. The most important trust for me is the privacy with the US government, and they appear to have taken a stand with that. I’m pretty content that Sergey and Larry are flying the plane. Imaging if Larry Ellison had gotten into search. I trust that guy about as far as I could throw him.

Rajeev

If you take a long enough interval any company will have random glitches like these. So I don’t think Google is any exception. If it happens on a regular basis it might be indicative of thing turning sour, but since that is not the case I would just pass it as a random blip.

Having said that I think Google as an entity is highly overrated in its capabilities. I personally believe that Google just happened to stumble upon a gold mine with respect to its advertising revenues (search related – and I assume that is what brings in much of the revenues, I doubt whether rest of their investments make any returns). Search engines have provided a means for small entrepreneurs to display their wares/offer their service to the world for the first time and these folks are willing to shell out a certain amount of money every month to see if it would bring in any business for them. A friend of mine attempted to start a small medical transcription biz and finally decided to let go of the idea 7 or 8 months later. During this period he spent about USD 1000 a month for certain transcription related keywords. There are enough small time entrepreneurs in the world who will be attempting to build a business and what Google sells them is hope. Very few % of these folks will see any returns, but a good number of them will keep their hopes high and pump money into Google and finally vanish. Of course someone else will take their spot and go through the same cycle. In turn Google gets described as more and more innovative.

So I don’t think there is something earth-shatteringly innovative Google has done that has brought them huge revenues. They have simply stumbled upon a clean and neat way to monetize their users. I am simply making this point because you constantly hear about how wonderfully innovative Google is vs say MSFT or Company X and that according to me is pure gibberish. They have a good search tool, but the rest of their tools aren’t any different from anybody else. Personally I think the early pioneers of search were probably more innovative, Google improved upon those early fundamental innovations and won the top prize. They are obviously having a good run, but please note that companies like Microsoft or Oracle or…have an entire ecosystem built around them where that is not the case with companies relying on eyeballs, they probably have a much shorter interval between ‘rise and fall’.

Rick

Google’s “Don’t be evil” motto is equivalent to Skype’s “Sharing is good.”

If sharing is so good, why do they keep a proprietary network.

These mottoes probably served a purpose at a point in time or maybe even a period of time. However, they usually expire.

In God we trust… to human is greed, lust, idolatry, and all sorts of wickedness.

Thank God for Jesus.

MT

If a common person like me is allowed to speak here, I’d just say that nobody cares how much money Google makes or how they manipulate tips or ads or whatever it is that they do and whatever it is that only geeks can see, not us, the common folks, we only care that they sure have made a great search engine which is the easiest of ’em all to use. Hell, one cannot even find other search engines without being on Google. I think people are just plain jealous of their achievements.

As far trust with their mail is concerned Om, don’t you think with the big a*s blog you have here and with the millions you are making out of ad money owing to the high CPM you got, you can certainly afford your own mail? And is also in your best interests?

I am done with reading these romanticized posts about Google not being cute anymore…to tell you the truth, they really never were a cute or nice little startup…they always had this clever image and very truly so.

The basic equation is Microsoft is the king of the software market…and Google is the queen of the internet. No kings allowed there! Women were plain smarter always.

Dan

They aren’t fooling anyone anymore with their ‘Don’t be evil’ motto.

But how do they get rid of it? Press Release titled “Google Now Evil! Google ditches ‘Dont Be Evil Motto’!”?!?

Deepak

The whole zeitgeist thing amuses me. Three years ago, before Google became big, this years zeitgeist would have been touted as another example of Google’s innovation (and frankly its a far better list than the usual fare)

Jawad (Shuzak)

We geeks trust Google with our girlfriends. Google has been the target of too much criticism lately. Should we stop trusting Google because Orkut had a 24 hour downtime? Absolutely not.

Google should keep its “Don’t Be Evil” motto as it keeps the company’s ethical side on check. Nobody would bother ranting over Google’s policies if it didn’t maintain its stance over this motto.
– Jawad Shuaib

Om Malik

That was one of the reasons why I chose not to put gigaom corporate email on google for your domains – the trust and not sure why and how they will be able to use that information.

Will Dean

I trust them to a point. However, I wouldn’t trust them with any important e-mail or anything but then again I’m paranoid and wouldn’t trust any big company with that data.

Om Malik

Steven,

agree with you – but what this is – growing up to market realities. I think they cannot pretend to be a cute little start up anymore. I don’t see it as a moral issue, but well part of the process.

Nice post by the way. Just added you to my feed reader.

Steven

Google passed that fork in the road when they went into China and showed that censorship was okay as long as the dollars were there.

So now google is pimping themselves and folks are calling this a tipping point – how funny

http://www.winextra.com/?p=199

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