Is Google Becoming the Next Microsoft?

I found a reference to an article entitled Relax, Bill Gates; It’s Google’s Turn as the Villain in the New York Times and found it really interesting how quickly the attitudes towards a company can turn in this industry.

I am actually quite fascinated by Google. I am amazed at how quickly they have grown and how they have managed to bake intense innovation into their culture. The releases of their mail, mapping, and continued improvements to their search engine, along with their quick integration of Ajax technology into their tools have made me quite curious as to how a company can move so quickly to create such useful software. I am more curious with how they have created an environment in which people clamor to work for more than I would be irritated that they are “hoarding all of the top engineers in the industry”. Of course they are! Who among us wouldn’t choose to work for a company built around software development as a driver of innovation rather than a nuisance that has to be dealt with in order to get product to sell?

One comparison I found really interesting in the article was the following:

To place Google in context, Mr. Kraus offered a brief history lesson. In the 1990’s, he said, I.B.M. was widely perceived in Silicon Valley as a “gentle giant” that was easy to partner with while Microsoft was perceived as an “extraordinarily fearsome, competitive company wanting to be in as many businesses as possible and with the engineering talent capable of implementing effectively anything.”

Now, in the view of Mr. Kraus, “Microsoft is becoming I.B.M. and Google is becoming Microsoft.” Mr. Kraus is the chief executive and a founder of JotSpot, a Silicon Valley start-up hoping to sell blogging and other self-publishing tools to corporations.

This is an interesting thought. There may very well be a “passing of the torch” happening right before our eyes.

I think that building a company to which Bill Gates would refer to as “more like us than anyone else we have ever competed with” is one of the highest compliments a technology company can receive. Its a small wonder that Google can recruit the talent it can recruit. Doesn’t everyone want to work for a company of that calibre?

I guess when it comes right down to it, I’m glad a company came around to give Microsoft a run for it’s money. Microsoft has always been heralded as a company that built an environment in which developers can prosper. As a matter of fact, they are the only company I’ve ever heard of that have that distinction as much as Microsoft has historically had. I think, from a development perspective, that its great that another company has been able to take that attitude and run with it — and show obvious success because of it.

In closing, take a look at the Google Jobs page and read the section entitled “The engineer’s life at Google”. Once your done there, head over to the Google Blog and read some of the entries there like “Don’t knock opportunity” by Reza Behforooz. Finally, take a look at the “Ten Things Google Has Found To Be True“.

I’ve said many times that I thought that “Revenue is a by-product of doing the right things for your customers”. I actually have to augment that by saying “Revenue is a by-product of doing the right things for your customers and employees” (while I’m augmenting the verbal statement, my hope is that the people who report to me have actually seen this behavior demonstrated in how I try to lead them). It was encouraging to see both of these sentiments summed up in Googles “ten things“.

I would spend more time wondering why we didn’t see these principles sooner (or figuring out how to instill these values into our current companies) rather than complaining about how Google gets all of the good engineers.

But that’s just me.