Blog Post

The Inside Word: Search Executive Accuses Google Of Being Copycat

imageToday, we introduce a new weekly feature, The Inside Word, that looks at unusual industry debates and discussions unfolding on the blogs of employees at digital-media companies.

Poster: Mike Markson (pictured, right)

Blog name: Marskonland

Company: Blekko

Backstory: Blekko is a search-engine startup expected to go live this summer. The company, whose investors include Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, argues that Google (NSDQ: GOOG) was built to index a version of the web that no longer exists — “a web where people still engaged in social linking behavior, for one thing.” Last week, another stealth search engine, Wolfram Alpha, made its public debut.

Blog Entry: Markson says that on the same day that Wolfram Alpha launched its search engine, which can (among other things) find and compare online data, Google introduced a similar feature. He cites other examples where, he says, Google has quickly copied would-be rivals. Two weeks after Wikia Search went public, for instance, Google started testing a similar feature, Markson writes. And a month after yet another search startup, Cuil, started putting longer snippets in its results, Google did the same, Markson says.

The point: “Can you imagine Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) making wholesale changes to its stores because (a) mom and pop store on the corner implemented some neat features for its customers?” Markson says in his blog post.

Counter-point: Google’s Matt Cutts responds to each of Markson’s examples on his own blog, saying essentially that the overlaps were coincidental and that Google had these products in the works well before the other companies introduced them. “Don

4 Responses to “The Inside Word: Search Executive Accuses Google Of Being Copycat”

  1. The tech market is littered with startups trying to build a better mouse trap. The major players aren't just sitting around and not investing in new technologies. Although their first reaction to a new competitive capability (threat) is to create FUD and slow the market down, secretly they figure out how to build (or buy) something to compete if they feel it is worthwhile. IBM and Microsoft are masters at this strategy. Google is not going to be any different. Companies need to focus on technologies that change the market and disrupt the status quo in a way that addresses (or creates new) customer demand. For example Ford, introducing the production line to make a car the plant workers could afford. It was still a car but with much broader market appeal.

    Perhaps Blekko has done this and Google is only coming at it with a suggestion to slow things down while they figure out an attack plan. That remains to be seen.

  2. Mike Markson is pulling a very common stunt and it will most likely backfire. Plus, most likely, his new search engine/Google killer, isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

    Google has become quite the giant in its old age and its getting easier and easier to take pot shots at its exterior. The company that put Microsoft in its place in so many things is becoming the next Microsoft and these type of attacks can only get worse.

    Being a "copy cat"? Not likely. Having it in the pipeline or adapting quickly is much easier to grasp. Every time I see Hollywood produce two movies with the same basic concept (ship disasters, volcanoes, underwater aliens, etc. etc.) you wonder if there was a leak somewhere in the system. But the truth is, the same influences and inspirations can tough a variety of people at once… it's not always a "flash of genius".

  3. jenkins makes a good point, he's putting Blekko and his neck out on the line. But calling out Google, because of their ability to adapt, and adapt quickly, is the same reason why most haven't heard of those search engines like Wolfram|Alpha. Why lost traffic and users, when you can offer them EVERYTHING that they get somewhere else?

    – NoTimeForRecess.com

  4. jenkins

    Mike should be VERY careful. This kind of PR stunt can be very very very dangerous to Blekko's brand. Now, I'd argue that the stakes are extra high for Blekko. It better be completely amazing or it will fail miserable. This is all because of Markson's PR stunt IMHO.