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Google's DNA 171

Posted by Zonk
from the bioengineered-for-the-win dept.
bart_scriv writes "Businessweek confronts Google naysayers with an analysis of the company's business structure, arguing that its unique structure lends it the flexibility to adapt to any and all markets: 'Google is actually the first company with a brand that is built entirely on stem cells: able to grow and develop into whatever form it sees fit.' The article predicts significant changes for the company in communications, hardware, entertainment and localization and goes on to argue that Google is on the verge of achieving the holy grail of branding--being all things to all markets."
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Google's DNA

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  • Good God (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bhirsch (785803) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @10:55AM (#15105723) Homepage
    This looks like an article written about the dot-com of the week in the late 90s. When all the hype dies down, Google will likely be a success like Yahoo -- solid, but not the most amazing company out there.
  • Yes, sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StevenHenderson (806391) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nosrednehevets.> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:00AM (#15105766)
    a brand that is built entirely on stem cells...

    But don't stem cells become static and defined after some time? I hate to say it, but I think the innovation well will dry up eventually.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:05AM (#15105813)
    "Businessweek confronts Google naysayers with an analysis of the company's business structure, arguing that its unique structure lends it the flexibility to adapt to any and all markets..."

    If that's true, then pick one or two and excel in those markets the way you excel in adwords.

    I hate to say it, but Google reminds me more and more of Netscape in 1996. Both companies were leaders with strong brand names and one great product (web browser, search engine, etc.). However, Netscape utterly failed to build on their success, squandered their brand name and was eventually equalled and bettered by Microsoft. I see the same thing going on now with Google as they lurch from one non-profitable project to another and other competitors start eyeing the search engine market again...

  • ...doesn't that make it a virus? It can basically spread from one place to another, adapting to each new "host" as it goes.

    Now, before the "Troll" stamps come out, I'm not saying this is necessarily bad, though this does tend to make Google a... wait for it... monopoly. Yes there are competitors, but they seem a distant second right now and are probably going to remain so if the article is true. I doubt Yahoo can modify its culture to compete directly with Google.

    Google's strength in being so adaptable is in the power it gains with each arena it moves into. If Google truly wants to be the planet's information source, there will come a point that it is so large yet so tenuous and amorphous, that no government will be able to go around it. This means trouble for a United States hell bent on spying on people or a China trying to rewrite history and keep fresh ideas coming in in a controlled fashion.

    The question now becomes, has Google learned the Spiderman lesson -- will they treat their great power responsibly?

  • Re:Good God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bhirsch (785803) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:10AM (#15105850) Homepage
    I would not count Yahoo as a disappointment, the market just corrected for their being overvalued. The same thing will likely happen to Google. My point is, I don't think they will crash and burn like most did, but rather settle down to be on par with Yahoo.

    Many people will likely lose their shirts on Google stock, but I have no sympathy for people who should've learned before how dangerous it is to look at an overvalued stock as a long-term stable investment.
  • by Jivha (842251) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:14AM (#15105876)
    ...the article is written by Gabriel Stricker from BrandChannel [brandchannel.com]. The tone seems to be a typical marketing/branding kind - lots of high-sounding assertions and phrases, and very few solid justifications for the same.

    For instance, check this sentence: "Google is actually the first company with a brand that is built entirely of stem cells: able to grow and develop into whatever form it sees fit."

    Huh? World's first company? Built entirely of stem cells? Into whatever it sees fit?

    What is this guy smoking?

    Google's decision to branch into many unrelated/related ideas is not due to any stem cells or mitochondria, but simply because it has enough money and talent to do so. More importantly, the stock market that usually punishes companies for expanding too fast/too much still seems to be in awe of Google.

    Imagine Microsoft deciding to enter into server harware, or Sun into smartphones, or Dell into online dating! But when Google does it, its suddenly "stem cells" in action!
  • Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wellington Grey (942717) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:19AM (#15105922) Homepage Journal
    Google is on the verge of achieving the holy grail of branding--being all things to all markets.

    The fastest and surest was to displease everyone is to try and please everyone.

    -Grey [wellingtongrey.net]
  • by Wellington Grey (942717) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:25AM (#15105969) Homepage Journal
    From the article: Google Entertainment? Yeah, its DNA can do that...

    Google Hardware? Genetic mission accomplished... The stem-cell question for prospective consumers is, Where would you prefer to buy this hardware...?


    Guys like the author are the reason scientific terms get degraded and clouded in the mind of the public. £10 says this guy couldn't give a coherent description of DNA, stem cells OR why he thinks they apply to the business world.

    -Grey [wellingtongrey.net]
  • Confused Author (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eander315 (448340) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:33AM (#15106031)
    The author was obviously not a Biology major. They've based their whole article on a mixed metaphor:

    "What naysayers don't understand is that the DNA of the Google brand is unlike anything ever seen in the modern market landscape. Google is actually the first company with a brand that is built entirely of stem cells: able to grow and develop into whatever form it sees fit."

    I'm not really sure what DNA has to do with stem cells in this sense. The first sentence implies we're going to hear about Google's "parents", perhaps the companies the employees worked at before coming to Google. The following sentence about stem cells is comlpetely unrelated, as DNA isn't really what makes stem cells interesting, especially not in this case.

    I know it's kind of nitpicky, but frankly it's annoying to see this kind of stuff when the audience is relatively scientifically well-versed, at least compared to the general public.

  • by bec1948 (845104) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:54AM (#15106205) Homepage
    You and several others comment on ""Google is actually the first company with a brand that is built entirely of stem cells: able to grow and develop into whatever form it sees fit."

    I think you're missunderstanding the point of the "stem cell" metaphor: That most of the products/services that Google is offering aren't solutions themselves, but rather are means to solutions which remain in the hands of the users or perhaps more approrpriately, independent developers.

    Google Earth is fun. Building applications on top of it, whether something as mundane as HBO's Sopranos marketing effort, or more interesting like the Nike jogging paths is what's interesting. All of these things subsist on a Google platform. In this case it's Google Earth. From another view it might be Maps, or Froogle, or ..."

    That's what the stem cell idea is about. Google is a platform vendor (See Dave Winer for the definition I'm using). In fact, extending the metophor, the Google brand is the platform and each nacent cell of a product/service are the meta-APIs of the platform.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @03:25PM (#15107973)
    "Stem cells" are the best and the brightest engineers and, although I've heard that google hires such talent, I was rather disappointed when I actually went through their interview process. Basically, I met 5-6 people, many of which were Ph.D.'s but some of which had dropped out, and all of them asked me the same inane questions: implement BFS in C on the board, implement a linked-list on the board, implement some-other-stupid-algorithm-for-which-you-would-no rmally-just-download-some-code on the board...

    I was thinking "if I really have to do this kind of thing on the job, I don't want this job." And anybody who nails these questions because they think about these kinds of things on a daily basis is by definition NOT the best and the brightest; they are code monkeys. so, google is hiring a bunch of code monkeys with (or without) Ph.D.'s. I don't see how that equates to "stem cells."

    I am doing top research (or so I think) at a top cs Ph.D. program in the country, and had several ideas that I thought would really help the company, but nobody asked me about these nor did I have the opportunity to talk to anybody about any interesting ideas whatsoever. It seems that google will hire anybody who can win a speed coding contest, but "stem cells" are people who can figure out *what* to implement, not just *how* to implement it.

    Frankly, I sold my google stock after going through their interview process, because I don't see google continuing its old growth with the kind of people they are currently hiring.

  • Re:Good God (Score:3, Insightful)

    by budgenator (254554) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @04:12PM (#15108381) Journal
    I think that google is more in tune with what they are not, than what they are, so it would take more than a few years to corrupt its' carefully crafted culture. Google is a business embodyment of the unix phillosophy, small well made tools that are designed to do one or two things well and can be piped together in ways not originaly anticipated; this concept is too alien for most "suits" to get their heads arround.

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