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Monday, July 7, 2008

Defending Google

Introduction: While both my blog and one of my emails are through Google subsidiaries, I want to be clear that my defense is not based on that. In fact, the reason I am defending Google is the same reason I use it for both my blog and my email, because I think highly of the company.

Back when the automobile was first invented, there was immediately well over one hundred companies that jumped into the industry looking to find their own gold rush in cars. Of course, nearly one hundred years later we only have three. Such is the nature of capitalism. In any new endeavor, most of the first players fail. That's why those that succeed with any new technology or niche should be lauded for their risk taking and innovation.

The internet worked much the same way. Up until the bubble burst in 2000, internet companies were a dime a dozen. Once the internet bubble popped, only the very few elite internet companies survived. One of those companies was Google. Google's success has been extraordinary and remarkable. They have grown in ten years what most companies take decades if not centuries to grow. They not only survived the purge of the internet market, not two years into their existence, but they thrived in it.

Furthermore, Google has succeeded like any good capitalist, through techniques like branding, cross selling, and innovation.

That's why I find it troublesome some of the conspiracy theorizing and rumor mongering that many on the internet use in attacking Google. Many a conservative take as fact that Google manipulates their searches in order to bring liberal sites to the front of any search and put conservative ones toward the back. I find this charge to be the height of not only nonsense but irresponsibility. Google built its business through branding. Branding is essentially a company creating a name so popular, respected and trustworthy that folks use it for services that are of little difference from those of other companies. Google's main business is the search engine. In most ways, a search on Google is no different from one on Yahoo or anyone of thousands of search engines. So, why would someone choose Google over Yahoo? It's because of branding. Google's name has become so synonymous with search engines that more times than not folks will go there even though the search is no different anywhere else.

In order to believe that Google has decided on a nefarious search criteria, you would also have to believe that the same folks that worked so hard to create their brand are also willing to jeopardize it in order to achieve some sort of nebulous political goals. If ever it could be proven that these conspiracy theories are true, then Google's brand is shattered. No one would ever trust their searches, and their entire business would collapse. So, if the conservative critics are right, then the exact same folks that built the brand to its enormous stature are now jeopardizing it for political rather than capitalistic reasons.

On top of this, we have this scurrilous attack by Erick Erickson at Redstate. Erickson follows a long maze of loose connections and conspiracy theories to hypothesize that Google is trying to run a nefarious network of organizations to "socialize broadband". I won't dignify the charge with a point by point response, except to point out again that Google's entire business depends on branding. That means the name Google must continue to have respect. If what Erickson is saying is true, and proven, then again Google's entire business is shot. If people don't trust the Google name there is no Google.

Furthermore, Erickson continues on in accusing the founders of Google of being closet socialists. This is a rather ironic charge since these so called socialists certainly mastered the art of capitalism. Keep in mind that while these so called socialists are supposedly on some sort of a nefarious quest to implement their world view, each of their actions is capitalistic in nature.

Look at what Google has done over the last ten years. Out of their bread and butter search engine they have created an email division and a blogging division. Furthermore, they have been involved in several high profile mergers and acquisitions, the most high profile being Youtube. If these folks are socialists, they are doing quite a good job acting as capitalists.

So, in order to believe that all of this is true, one would have to believe that this company that has had extraordinary success dominating the system we have in place, wants to radically change it and create a system that no one can predict.

These conspiracy theories are very dangerous in my opinion. Imagine if you went to a restaurant and screamed at the top of your lungs that the food was awful and that you see rats. This would be rather catastrophic to the restaurant's business. While these conspiracy theories are certainly not the equivalent of that, they certainly attempt to be. Google's microphone is massive and their critics is tiny, however irresponsible attacks are a threat to any business.

If the critics succeed the world will believe that Google manipulates its search engines in order to move certain ideologies to the front and others to the back. Furthermore, the world will believe that Google is attempting to socialize the internet. If that happens, Google will be destroyed. The critics had better be sure they are right if they are attempting such destruction, and I am of the opinion the evidence is nowhere near such certainties. One should only attempt to destroy if they are sure that company is up to no good.

As Guido once remarked in Risky Business

don't ever mess with another man's livelihood

I hope that those that attack Google with nothing more than anecdotal evidence will take that heed.


Anonymous said...

Google is blatantly anti-American by refusing to post non-political artwork tributes on their homepage. Some notable examples include no artwork for Memorial Day, Pearl Harbor Day and a pathetic, generic piece of garbage artwork for Veteran's Day. Meanwhile, Google staff posts artwork for obscure dead artists that no one cares about. These so-called artists should be thankful they can work in a free country and be thankful that American soldiers fought for the freedoms they enjoy. I would like to see these pathetic Google employees try their tactics in Communist China. If these Google people hate America so much, I encourage them to leave America--now! I have quit using all of Google's services and encourage everyone to stop giving the company free advertising--replace the absurd "Google" verb with the more generic "Web search." Also, uninstall Google Toolbar from the Web Browser. Google's demise would be greatly welcomed.

mike volpe said...

You want to see a company destroyed because of the artwork they put on their main page on certain holidays. As long as you have your perspective. Keeping in mind that Google has created jobs for thousands of Americans I would say that more than makes up for whatever anti Americanism their choice of artwork exhibits.