A lot’s been in news recently regarding the “so secret many Googlers don’t know about it” Google X. The NY Times wrote an interesting article this past weekend which detailed out (to some extent) cars that drive themselves and robots (love the play Matt McGee did in Search Engine Land (aka not the .txt file) that could assist Google in collecting information (maybe they’ll not store the data packet information this time) for Google Maps.
The founders, ex CEO Eric Schmidt and other executive claim to spend time on these “tiny” but hopeful projects that could someday bring tremendous shareholder value. I say, wonderful! I recall a several years back at a Zeitgeist held at the Googleplex, Larry or Sergey (I think it was Larry) discussing how they were tinkering around with the PCB which enabled them to save a tremendous amount of energy and thus saving the company large sums of money. What an awesome innovation! They say a problem (not just for Google, but all computers) and solved it. At the same time, they accomplished this soon after taking the company public, bringing Gmail to life, obviously working on other projects like Chrome and, oh yeah, fighting off the likes of Yahoo and MSN.
Now I’ve been one that’s stated for some time that Google is not an inventor of “things”, but more an innovator. They didn’t create the first search engine. Didn’t create the first email, browser, contextual advertising business model, map view and just about anything else. What I love is that the executive team sees a problem, a challenge, an inefficiency and sets out to solve it.
I think Wall Street wants their cake and wants to eat it too. Some complain that Google is a one trick revenue pony (see AdWords) and as long as the winning streak continues, they’ll put up with these projects. However, if they don’t innovate in ways most of us can’t imagine, how will they ever diversity their revenue portfolio? I feel bad for the CEO in the respect that if the earnings report falls short in the next quarter of two he’s going to be forced to respond to the allegations that they are spending too much time on “other projects” and taking their eye “off the ball”. When in fact, one of these innovations could be the “next internet” and take us out of this economic funk.
Managing Director, Search and Media Strategy