What Would Google Do? My review

Jeff Jarvis doesn’t come right out and say it, but it’s pretty obvious why the former media executive, blogger and journalism professor chose to call his recent book What Would Google Do? It’s safe to say that Google isn’t just the flavour of the month, it’s the flavour of the decade, and possibly even the century. Known only to geeks a few short years ago, it has quickly become the sine qua non of modern technology companies, a multibillion-dollar colossus that for many people is virtually synonymous with the Internet.

In his book — which the front flap refers to as “one part prophecy, one part thought experiment, one part manifesto and one part survival manual” — Jarvis says he set out to “reverse-engineer” the principles that have made Google great, and then apply those lessons to other companies and industries, from restaurants to car companies. Despite the title, however, this book isn’t really about Google at all. It’s really about the Internet, and the disruptive effects that the Web in all its various forms is having on businesses and even society itself. Like so many others, it seems that Jarvis is happy to use Google as a stand-in or proxy for the Web itself.

(read the rest of this review at the Globe and Mail book site)

Inside Google’s Canadian HQ

I noticed that Andrew Noyes of Tech Daily Dose wrote about the opening of a Google office in Reston, Va. and provided some pics, so I thought I might do the same and write a post about my recent trip to Google’s Canadian HQ in Toronto. The search giant has had a small office in Toronto for awhile now, but recently moved into new and fancier digs just north of Dundas Square, and I got a tour — and some free lunch — from Tamara Micner a few days ago. After signing in with a touchscreen, I got a stick-on name badge printed out from a small machine and then entered the inner sanctum.

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The impossibility of rational debate

I didn’t get a chance to write about this when it first hit my inbox, but I just can’t resist saying something about the ridiculous “study” that a consulting firm called Precursor did of the bandwidth that Google supposedly uses but doesn’t pay for. The headline on the email I got — which I assume was sent to tens of thousands of others as well — was sensational and gripping, in the same way that supermarket tabloid headlines are often sensational and gripping (“Elvis clone lands on the moon!”). The email trumpeted the fact that “Google uses 21 times the bandwidth that it pays for.” Bound to get a reaction, right? And it certainly did, with the scholarly-sounding Precursor study being cited holus-bolus by a number of websites.

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Nerd fight: Google vs. Facebook

It’s like a war, except with programmers and social networks instead of soldiers and anti-aircraft artillery. First Google opened up its distributed social net, Google Friend Connect — which I have installed in my sidebar and also embedded below — and then Facebook threw open the doors on its version, imaginatively called (what else) Facebook Connect. The aim of both ventures is the same: to allow you to use your login credentials from the network on various sites around the Web, bringing your social profile with you wherever you go. In the process, both companies no doubt hope to entice more people to build a social network based on their tools and services (for some reason I’m reminded of the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church at this point, but that might just be me).

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Yahoo: We are so totally screwed

It’s not exactly a huge surprise, given the anti-trust brouhaha that the proposal caused in Washington, but Google formally announced that its search deal with Yahoo is over, kaput, deceased, pushing up the daisies — it is an ex-agreement. It wasn’t just the anti-trust concerns either; some advertisers were apparently worried about a lack of choice as a result of the tie-up, and not without reason. So how badly is Yahoo screwed right now? On a scale of one to 10, I would say Yahoo is now at 11.

As John Paczkowski notes at All Things D, this deal was supposed to generate as much as half a billion dollars worth of additional cash flow in its first year, money Yahoo could definitely use. But more than that, this deal was a way of trying to stand on its own two feet (albeit while leaning on Google for support), and that is now gone. Microsoft, which had its takeover bid for Yahoo derailed by the Google arrangement — among other things — is no doubt doing the math on another bid.

The only problem for Yahoo is that instead of a $45-billion deal at $31 a share, Microsoft is more likely to bid about half that, and that’s if it even makes another bid for Yahoo at all. Nice job, Jerry. How many failed Hail Mary passes can one CEO throw?

Update:

VentureBeat’s Matt Marshall is reporting that an internal Yahoo memo says to expect “a major historical announcement” later today, and the rumour is that Jerry Yang will step down as CEO. Kara Swisher at All Things D says that is dead wrong, and so does the New York Times DealBook blog. VentureBeat has now updated its post and quotes a Yahoo source as saying there is no truth to the rumours.