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Yahoo rolls over to Google

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Wednesday January 25, 2006 )

This is sad. According to Yahoo’s Chief Financial Officer Susan Decker, Yahoo is prepared to continue to play second fiddle to Google, and in fact has no aspiration to be numero uno in search.

The related Bloomberg article goes on to state that Yahoo! dropped from a 27% share of global Internet searches in November 2004 to 19% November 2005.

I’ve always been a bit of a Google fanboy (btw, thanks for the gift pack guys!), but this type of attitude from one of the very few companies that could challenge Google is very disappointing.

I’ve spent a good deal of my life to date in small country towns. In those towns, there’s usually one of everything if you’re lucky. One baker, one butcher, one bank etc. etc. They are very powerful entities – if you don’t like the way they do business, you’re a little stuck unless the majority of the town feels the same way. You put up with crappy service and high prices so you don’t have to drive for an hour to the next similar merchant, who by the way is usually also in a small town and nearly as crappy :).

As great as Google is and has been to us, I do fear a scenario where nobody is game to even think about taking on Google. Sure, we can all just put blind faith in Google’s ethos of “Don’t be evil”; but the world doesn’t work that way. You can’t just call up Sergey Brin or Larry Page and say “guys, we need to talk, there’s some bad stuff going down at the ‘Plex”.

Google has become an ultra-huge entity that I’m sure the founders have increasingly little control over and worse still – it has shareholders. Did they *really* have to go public? That was a sad day for me. No, I didn’t buy shares, even though I was 99.999% sure I could have made a healthy profit.

It’s my experience that shareholders, generally speaking, don’t give a rats ass about company mottos or its products, or the consumers of those products, as long as their stock values and dividends continue to escalate. It’s back to this ridiculous notion that capitalism is an infinitely expandable concept. How we arrive at that notion in a very finite world I find very puzzling and it will bite us on the ass big time very soon. Still, before people start pointing fingers at me and accusing me of being a communist, I’ll get back on track :).

Who is going to keep Google honest? Does it need to be now it has so much power? Who is going to ensure that the company retains the vision and holds fast to the motto as laid down by Sergey and Larry? Who is going to keep the pressure on Google to *improve* what they have in their brilliant core product – organic search?

Yahoo isn’t. Perhaps Microsoft through MSN Search? Billy, Steve and the team have a steep hill to climb before they’ll even glimpse the summit in the clouds that is Google. But now, more than ever, we *need* MSN Search to throw down the gauntlet (as they did do recently) instead of throwing in the towel like Y! has. Competition in moderation is a wonderful thing.

Sadly, I can’t see any other players on the horizon and it’s been a long time since I heard of a company name being bandied around as being a potential Google killer.

Don’t get me wrong – Google is not some dark enemy stealthily creeping up on us in the middle of the night. We willingly empowered the company – the webmasters who promoted them and the searchers/companies that use their services; and damned fine services they are for the most part.

I’ve heard some webmasters say, “we gave them success, we can take it away”. I believe it will take something mighty more powerful than a handful of pissed off webmasters to knock Google off its perch.

In Australia, we have what’s called the “tall poppy” syndrome. It’s where the average man in the street cheers on an underdog to the point of success, then seeks their downfall :). That process has now begun in earnest for Google. Their only way to win and keep hearts and minds is to keep their noses very, very clean – and to keep improving what they have. If they don’t, they may still remain powerful, but will be much despised – and I don’t think that was the goal for G.

I also fear them branching out into too many different areas and losing their touch on what made them amazing in the first place.

Google, you’ve been great – but keep the faith guys! In a nasty Walmart world where your own competitors are so far behind; you can make many more wonderful positive changes. Don’t forget your roots. You’ve effectively become your own government, please use that power wisely, before you become awash with so many different projects that the corporate cancer from within goes unnoticed and rapidly grows.


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