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Google, Larry, And Social

Scoble gets it:

In yesterday’s Gillmor Gang I argue that Google and Facebook have completely different cultures. Google is very much about finding information while Facebook is all about helping people “waste time.” Think about why Zynga, a company that helps us “waste time” playing games built on top of Facebook’s culture instead of Google’s. These cultures are like oil and vinegar and if you force one to be another it could turn bad.”

An example of this? Google’s decision not to sponsor an NPR quiz show:

“To figure out where we might find talent like that already inhabiting our cube farms, I surveyed our engineering employees, asking what media outlets they tuned to. Unsurprisingly public radio news programing was high on the list. More than half of the engineers listened to Morning Edition or All Things Considered. Third on the list with 36% was the NPR quiz show, “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” (WWDTM ). So it seemed like a match made in heaven when NPR offered us a sweet deal to become exclusive sponsor of that show. I loved the idea. WWDTM was quick, funny, and news-based and NPR told me the show’s producers used Google to research their quiz questions.

Unfortunately, Larry was not a fan. “I just think the information content is low,” he told me. Well, yeah. It was a quiz show, not the BBC World Service. More surprising to me was that Sergey agreed. He didn’t listen to NPR for entertainment, just news.”

And Larry is now back in charge. Has he changed? I doubt it. Does he have a Facebook profile, a Twitter account? No.

Photo by niallkennedy

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  • http://www.facebook.com/chuck.goolsbee Chuck Goolsbee

    …and yet, 25% of every Googler’s bonus now hinges on “beating Facebook”. Sounds like a Scott McNealy move, or even Steve Balmer – not to mention a huge morale sinker within the company.

    First of all, how on earth do you define success in this case?
    Second, isn’t this shift of focus basically taking their eye off their core business?

    As you say, Search & Social are *entirely* different things. Larry is drilling holes in his hull.

  • http://www.technovia.co.uk Ian Betteridge

    Well, to be fair what their bonuses are actually tied to (according to the memo) is how the company “perform[s] against our strategy to integrate relationships, sharing and indentity across our products.” That’s not quite the same thing as “beating Facebook” and makes much more sense in terms of their overall product strategy. Relationships, sharing and “indentity” (sic) are indicators which you can hang improved ad personalisation on – and I suspect that’s where Larry sees it going.