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Google Businesses The Internet

The Google Caste System 358

managedcode writes "Google doesn't like to do things traditionally. Right from their IPO, when they dumped Goldman Sachs for secretly trying to deal with their big investor, Kleiner Perkins. Business Week covers the Google Caste System, 'in which business types are second-class citizens to Google's valued code jockeys [..] They deem the corporate development team as underpowered in the company, with engineers and product managers tending to carry more clout than salesmen and dealmakers.' At last a company is shouting at the top of it's voice, engineers make the world."
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The Google Caste System

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  • by blueadept1 ( 844312 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @04:29AM (#14122859)
    Importance doesn't equal control in much respect. The executives and managers are still in control of the company's future, regardless of what the programmers, DB admins, and the like want to believe. Don't get me wrong, this is great for the company, and is theorhetically the best way to work it. If your workforce is happy, they are more productive and do better quality work. Quality work and productivity really make or break a company. Thus, if you motivate them and reward them to make them happy, the company will do well.
    • by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @04:50AM (#14122906) Homepage Journal
      I wouldn't say the executives are in control... more like, they decide between the many innovations that the engineers provide as future directions.

      This is how it should be. Engineers don't want to make those decisions... they just want to make sure that the options are the best versions of the options they can be.

      So to sum up a summary; Executives execute decisions based on the available options given to them by producers, in this case software engineers, whom decide which solutions or innovations they will champion and make viable (when they are given the power to do so). Executives get to balance business opportunities with what technology is mature enough to take to the market in a real way. Engineers get to balance technology opportunities with what is viable as a mature business solution they can bring to market.

      This is how it should be. Very rarely is this a reality... Google seems to do well with trying out potential technologies and discovering viable business opportunities along the way.

      Long live executives who are smart enough to let engineers develop solutions in search of a problem and then discover a way to market them... Long live engineers smart enough to propose products in search of a user and then discover a way to realize them.

      • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @06:09AM (#14123077) Homepage
        Whether it should be or not is somewhat irrelevant. It's the results that will get people to buy into it. It's the results that will cause a wave of change. There's no denying that the world is watching Google. And anything they succeed at will likely be mimicked by others. (Trouble is, most mimickers don't understand Google's cultural foundation and that mere mimickery will simply fail.)

        And yes, I wouldn't think most engineers would want "control" over the company. The good ones don't seem to have much in the way of ego. But it's hard to say really... I don't know if that's true of Google or not -- that the makers and designers don't have control over where the company is going. I mean have you noticed that Google isn't only in just one or two directions? It's moving like an amoeba. More precisely, it's growing like an amoeba. Pretty smart if you think about it. Simply let the good projects succeed on their own merit and the bad ones die quietly. "Embarassment" and ego do not appear to be factors in Google's progress. Again, as you say, "how it should be." If it's successful, let's just see if the egos of other companies will relinquish their importance to development.
        • Results has nothing to do with it. THis is not new. THis is how us companies use to be. Its reflected in their names even. But when you start hiring cronies that have no technical skills to do the management, then you start down a new path of politics and incompetence due to inability to comprehend the technology.

          Look at Japanese auto-makers. You will see their upper management are people that mostly started as mechanics and engineers, etc. and have been with the company 50 years. When you give a pres
      • by gstein ( 2577 ) * on Sunday November 27, 2005 @06:14AM (#14123090) Homepage
        I think this is the right way to describe it: the engineering/product management group provides lots of options. Management allocates people/machines/resources to the various options. But nothing happens without that initial impetus from engineering.

        Case in point: I asked Eric Schmidt about a potential project based on some comments he made at an all-hands meeting. He point-blank told me, "Don't ask me about getting that going, find some coworkers and make it happen. I'm the wrong person to ask."

        Projects don't come from the top. It is entirely bottoms-up. And the nice thing is that top-to-bottom agrees this is the best model.

        Damn, I love working there :-)
      • Long live executives who are smart enough to let engineers develop solutions in search of a problem and then discover a way to market them... Long live engineers smart enough to propose products in search of a user and then discover a way to realize them.

        While that sounds very nice, I have to disagree as well. I've worked for the past 16+ years in a company that can be considered "normal" in that the executives are "in charge" (as oposed to the engineers), but that is very abnormal in that almost all o

        • From the earlier posts, I got the impression that the execs were the business people (who know money) with a little knowledge of what the engineers are trying to do.
          If the engineers come up with concepts of what is feasible, and where the trends of technology are heading, or have an idea of a next great technology (which takes the tech background), and then table that to the execs, it's up to the execs (before the development time gets allocated) to work out if it's something that can actually make money (o
        • I'm not sure I agree. I think the parent poster might have made a bad choice of phrase when he said "solutions looking for a problem" but it's really the easiest way to describe what google has done with many of it's products lately.

          Before google maps I never really realized how much I hate mapquest or yahoo's map service. If someone would have asked me about google developing map software I would have said yahoo maps works well enough for me. The same goes for froogle, gmail, etc...

          I really would have neve
    • That's at best a half-truth.

      Yes, the execs make decisions.

      Consider now a company with great management and lousy programmers. Do you really think that any amount of management can bail them out? The key to business is what you produce. If you produce nothing, you have nothing.
    • Google's executives and managers [mihaidragan.ro] are far from business types. During the college fair at my school, I asked the Google rep how they made sure that they don't soak up the same beuracratic business bull other growing companies hit. He said it was easy - you just have to be really careful whom you hire, and as long as you don't screw up too badly, it becomes obvious which managers are too far on the business side - they're the ones that get no respect.

      And the better the coders, the less management they requir
  • ERTW (Score:3, Funny)

    by Moocowsia ( 589092 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @04:36AM (#14122872)
    Its like a giant ERTW being put up there in the face of business. I like it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 27, 2005 @04:42AM (#14122883)
    " At last a company is shouting at the top of it's voice, engineers make the world."

    this reminds me of when steve balmer made his famous developers speech... "developers developers developers developers..."
  • by bgibby9 ( 614547 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @04:45AM (#14122892) Homepage
    will start to realise it's the employees that make their company work, not just the sales people!
    • Nah... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by deaconBlue ( 594063 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @05:13AM (#14122962)
      Engineering driven companies are nothing new, they're just normally not sustainable.

      Semiconductor and Passives components manufacturing are normally:
      a. small and founded by a geek with a good idea, who either...
            1. sells out early OR
            2. tries to make a go of it, spends too much time on pet projects and runs the company down.
      b. large companies driven by suits who:
            1. understand non-R&D business, ie. Sales and Operations, and remain competitive AND
            2. acquire small companies run into the ground by geeks.

      Why does Google do so well run by geeks? Dunno. It's astonishing they stay so focused. Guessing, maybe it's fear -- seems like they want to win so badly.

      But right now every 'free' thing they do, from maps to mail, pumps the very serious ad business with eyeballs and press.
      • Re:Nah... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jacksonj04 ( 800021 )
        They hired a business management geek early on, who made sure that Google wasn't driving itself into the ground.
      • Re:Nah... (Score:3, Informative)

        I work in the semi industry. My company is so fucked up that marketing lies and promises customers products that DON'T EXIST, and somehow RND (my dept) is held to a timeline that someone literally invented.
      • Re:Nah... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by aquarian ( 134728 )
        Engineering driven companies are nothing new, they're just normally not sustainable.

        Bullshit. What's not sustainable are companies that get taken over by accountants and MBAs after their founding engineer/executives move on or retire. This has been true since the dawn of the industrial age. Read some industrial history -- from before 1999 -- especially if you can't remember back that far as an adult.
    • Only, that's not actually true.

      Betamax vs VHS is the much-quoted example. But having worked in anti-virus, it's exactly the same. The best product is rarely the most popular - the most popular is always the one with the best sales and marketing people.

      In economics terms, people rarely have perfect knowledge of the market place, and they WILL be taken in by good sales people. EVERY TIME. The reason Google don't need to advertise is because they aren't asking users, who are their primary resource, to pay to u
      • The exception (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) *
        The best product is rarely the most popular - the most popular is always the one with the best sales and marketing people.

        While that is somewhat true, Google seems to be the exception to that rule.

        Google hardly does any advertising or pushy sales - it has got where it is because of the quality of what they offer. I was a huge AltaVista fan and I moved to Google only because of how well it worked, no other reason needed.

        Now what Google does very well at is marketing, which to my mind is bigger than sales.
  • I'd like to thank... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by unixbugs ( 654234 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @04:51AM (#14122907)
    K & R, Andy, the "Great Architect and Philosopher", and mostly, my nuts for making this happen. Only in the small universe that Google has become is this kind of thing possible. All companies started with a couple of guys who knew how to build something AND sell it, and, well, it has to become a pyramid at some point.

    I always hated selling stuff because more often than not one must compromise moral standing to have the product appeal to and compensate for the insecurities and needs of the potential buyer. That is not to say that we are not good at selling things, or even being "face", it just goes to show that some of us perfer to sleep at night and look at ourselves in the mirror without disgust; hence the nature of Open Source. I know, I know, without salesmen we wouldn't be the great company we are. Blah blah.

    It has to kick ass working there with that kind of weight. If I had a dollar for every time I had to live up to the mouth of some lying sales rep I'd have enough to buy myself one of those impossible systems I've built, and I only put up with that shit for a few months. But in the end it all boils down to me staring the salesman in the face saying, "If you are so fucking smart why don't you do it yourself?". I never got an answer back when I would ask. In fact, I usually got to take the rest of the day off.

    The answer must be clear. Code monkeys are just that, but salesmen are a true phenomenon. I can only surmise that liars are very hard to come by these days and those who actually make the world go 'round are a dime a dozen. A true testament as to why we as a civilization are still around.

    • Why do you consider it a moral issue to sell stuff to people? Have you ever considered that you may just have a mental illness? You can be honest and sell people stuff you know. It is very possible. The distrust of all things commercial isn't cool anymore. Its an indication of a fucked up mind in my book.
  • by gihan_ripper ( 785510 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @04:55AM (#14122915) Homepage

    ...that the caste system has done for the Indian economy (though I jest---see my last paragraph)!

    In fact, if you read TFA, you'll find that the author writes of Google's 'caste system' in negative tones (unsuprising, given that the article is from Business Week!). Western culture may not be perfect, but one real advantage it has over traditional subcontinental culture is that it has dispensed with this particular anachronism. At any rate, the point the article makes is that people with book smarts are typically terrible at running businesses. If you really want to feel superior, then feel superior because you have the freedom to indulge your intellectual curiosity, and not because you're running the show. In my opinion, intellectuals don't need to feel as though they are 'better' than business people. It is just that we find joy in different ways.

    Further, if you really want to make a comparision with the Indian caste system, there are two fundamental differences with the Google approach:

    • You are born into your caste. All your descendants will be of the same caste. This doesn't really seem to fit with the sentiment of the US Declaration of Independence ('all men are created equal', etc.).
    • In the Indian caste system [wikipedia.org], Brahmins (the intellectual caste) typically do not run the show. This is left to the Kshatriyas, who are kings, princes and warriors.
    • It's not about "running the show" or "being better than". It's about letting the people with the knowledge, who produce, in on the control.

      I believe the idea is that the tech people have a certain veto power over the suits. How this can be a bad thing, I'll never know.
      • I believe the idea is that the tech people have a certain veto power over the suits. How this can be a bad thing, I'll never know.

        Are you serious?

        In my company, the engineers have a lot of control over what gets prioritized. They spend the vast majority of their time working on projects that are very very cool and will never ever make a dime. Meanwhile projects like optimization and bugfixing that are unglamorous but actually affect our customers go untended.

        Look, there are a lot of dumb "suits" out

    • by elucido ( 870205 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @05:52AM (#14123047)
      The US always had a caste system, as had India, the difference is in the situation with Google, it seems to actually be a meritocracy. I never thought I'd see a merit based corporate environment but Google may be one of the first.

      Usually its always a caste based environment where elite well connected white males have meetings with their friends to decide the fate of your business or your job, while at the same time giving themselves a raise and reducing your salary.

      Google on the other hand is going about this in a completely different way, the idea is good, lets see how far Google can take it. On the other hand, we should not let Google be the last corporation like this, we should use the Google model in future businesses. The model seems to work, its profitable, and its not based on abusing workers. As much as Americans complain about Chinese sweatshops, lately it seems child labor and sweatshops are a good idea for the US economy, its better to have the sweatshops than the prisons.

      • by tacocat ( 527354 ) <[tallison1] [at] [twmi.rr.com]> on Sunday November 27, 2005 @08:37AM (#14123360)

        I think you are falling prey to the media hype.

        America caste system is more based on money than color. True there are always exceptions to these social structures and always will be, but the decision to include or exclude someone is done more on the basis of financial standing and potention to improve my financial standing than color.

      • by gregwbrooks ( 512319 ) * <gregbNO@SPAMwest-third.com> on Sunday November 27, 2005 @01:28PM (#14124346)
        Look around outside the tech field, there are actually quite a few meritocracies - and they work well.

        Consider my former employer [kiewit.com], the largest heavy civil construction firm in the U.S. Warren Buffet called them "the greatest meritocracy in American business," and with good reason - the company made something like $5+ billion in revenue the last year I was with them, but there were only 1,300 or so stockholders, all current employees.

        Here's how it worked: If you were in a position with profit-and-loss responsibility and were doing a good job, you'd be invited (after a few years with the company) to purchase stock. No options, no gifts - you were invited to make a purchase at the current share price and told exactly what the maximum was you could buy. Couldn't afford it? Then they'd hook you up with a bank in town that would happily loan you the money, since the stock (which had earned double-digit returns for decades) was great collateral.

        What happens when everyone on the team is an actual owner, and the only way you could become an actual owner is through doing a good job? Several things:

        • There's a lot less corporate B.S. Everyone on the team is working toward the same goal - profitability.
        • Loyalty improves. People are less apt to leave when they're invested. Combine that with a good system for capturing and teaching best practices, and you end up with a spooky-smart organization that makes fewer mistakes.
        • You were beholden only to yourself and your fellow employees. When you retired, the company bought your shares back - you could only own them as a current employee. That meant that they people you bumped into in the hall were the very shareholders that other companies always claim to be working for... the difference was, they were always around, and the company culture encouraged direct questioning and accountability.

        It sounds like I'm just reminiscing, but it was a great place to work and (if you stuck around) a great place to get rich - it's a shame other companies don't follow that model.

    • I think most Americans read too much into the 'system' bit in 'caste system'. Essentially, it mostly boils down to individual communities discriminating against each other, with the unfortunate effect of some communities concentrating wealth and power for centuries. This is inherently similar to your average bubba discriminating against, for instance, German or Irish immigrants, or against African Americans, because they dont speak, or look, like he does.

      If we're bringing out Constitutions in this regard,

  • caste system (Score:5, Insightful)

    by someone1234 ( 830754 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @04:56AM (#14122921)
    Well, Google is still young. I'm fairly sure it will eventually enter middle age and the engineers will be replaced by marketing. Then when it gets old, the marketeers will be replaced by lawyers. It is just a question of time, years, or even decades.
    • +1 speaks the truth.
    • by John_Sauter ( 595980 ) <John_Sauter@systemeyescomputerstore.com> on Sunday November 27, 2005 @10:27AM (#14123604) Homepage
      Well, Google is still young. I'm fairly sure it will eventually enter middle age and the engineers will be replaced by marketing. Then when it gets old, the marketeers will be replaced by lawyers. It is just a question of time, years, or even decades.

      I am sure you are right, because I have seen it happen. Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) was founded in 1959 by a couple of engineers. When I became aware of the company in 1963 it still had an engineering culture: the engineers ran the show, and the sales people were secondary. Somewhere around 1968, they renamed the programmers "software engineers" to give them more prestige.

      As the company matured the culture changed. Even though I worked for DEC from 1975 to 1992, I cannot point to a specific event that was the watershed. The first symptom that I noticed was that the KS10 was said to be developed in secret to prevent it from being cancelled. Even if that wasn't true, the fact that engineers believed it indicates that the engineers no longer felt that they were making the decisions.

      I wonder if paying commissions to the sales people was a symptom or a cause.

      I don't blame the demise of Digital entirely on the shift from an engineering focus to a sales focus. There were some bad decisions made by engineering in the last few years. But I can't help wondering if those decisions might have been corrected more quickly by a younger company.

      Strangely, IBM appears to be a counter-example. They are by far the oldest computer company, but they seem to have achieved some sort of dynamic equilibrium, where they are able to change direction as technology and markets change quickly enough to survive. I am sure some of that has to do with their size, but as General Motors reminds us, size is no guarantee of survival. I suppose they have internal institutions that keep them nimble.

      There are some good books on Digital Equipment Corporation. See The Ultimate Entrepreneur [ebay.com] for the story of DEC at its height, and DEC is Dead Long, Live DEC [ebay.com] for a look back after its death.
      John Sauter (J_Sauter@Empire.Net)

  • Just give it time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deadboy2000 ( 739605 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @05:01AM (#14122933)
    Google is still young. Eventually the business types, who have spent their lives studying how to manipulate people, will slowly take control from the folks who have spent their lives studying how to manipulate computers.
    • How can you believe that hackers arent experts in social engineering? Theres a reason why hackers like Bill Gates and the Google founders get rich. It's because manipulating people is not something that only elite businessmen can do, anyone can do it with enough practice.

      Also, what makes you think Google would hire manipulators or people who seem like a threat? And if they did don't you think they have security mechanisms in place? You make it seem as if its as simple as someone just walking in and hiijacki
  • by putko ( 753330 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @05:01AM (#14122934) Homepage Journal
    I hadn't heard that Goldy refused to play by the rules from the Google founders. The rules were typical Google: no backroom deals that favor big institutional investors over smaller investors.

    But Goldy wanted to get some easy money, they got caught and shut out of the deal. That makes my night. If you've dealt with bankers (esp. "New York" bankers), you'll know why.

    Here's a nice article on this. [telegraph.co.uk]

    Perhaps this also explains the "Google will fail" articles that appeared before the IPO; the powers-that-be were peeved that Google did the IPO their way, and wanted it to fail.
    • Code words (Score:2, Informative)

      by Atario ( 673917 )
      I'd be completely behind your comment except for the code words "New York" bankers [google.com] -- meaning Jews.

      Ruined it for me.
      • Re:Code words (Score:3, Insightful)

        by khallow ( 566160 )
        Why do you think "'New York' bankers" means "Jews"? And why should we care? My take is that you should think more and look for "code words" less.
  • And we're supposed to care why, exactly?

    -jcr
    • You hit it on the head. We keep seeing Google is evil posts on /. because they raised rates for software engineers, because they value software engineers, and because they're "steeling all of the talent."

      What can I say? What kind of software engineer would complain about this? Why don't you want to make more money? Why don't you want demand for your trade to go up? Why do you think that a company that engineers want to go to is evil?
  • Caste Systen, eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0WaitState ( 231806 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @05:03AM (#14122939)
    So if the Google "Caste System" is exceptional in that it promotes software developers over others in the corporation, what does that say about the "caste" rankings in most companies? Or do we only start seeing phrases like "caste system" when big media companies feel threatened by successful businesses using disruptive methods?

    This rather reminds me of Wall Street's desperate attempts to declare the Google auction IPO a failure, even after Google got more than twice the dollars per share than they would have in an investment bank-priced IPO. If you can't beat them, have your puppet press hang an ugly label on them.
  • by blindcoder ( 606653 ) <slashdot@wegwerf.anderdonau.de> on Sunday November 27, 2005 @05:03AM (#14122940) Homepage
    # make World

    Of course we do!
    • That's actually a command you can use to compile FreeBSD for yourself.

      I'm not sure if that was the parent's joke or not, but whether it was or not, I'm sure there are some linux-only folk on here that wouldn't have gotten that.
  • Winds of change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dexter77 ( 442723 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @05:04AM (#14122944)
    I hope this finally changes attitudes of business leaders. I've been working in software business for a decade now and never have I seen a software company where experts were valued above salesmen. When a salesman makes a big contract, it's like he is the king of the world. Whole company has to kneel before him (just a metaphor). When there are lay offs, the salesmen are last to go. But what we all slashdotters know and Google has now implemented, is that a deal with a customer is just a materialization of work done by the whole workforce of a company. It's not the moment when the contract is signed, that customer decides to order. It's the whole run where project managers convince the customer with a well done project, coders produce a product which customer loves, and other project people spend long hours with the customer assuring him that we really care for him. In the end, salesman is just there to present the work done by others.

    Many business leaders have began to realize, that people aren't using Google's product because they're running nice commercials on TV, but because they're just good products. It's no wonder why there have been so much polemic about bad quality of software products. Atleast where I've worked, all products have been done with a minimum effort. When a first alpha version start to emerge, business leader have already arranged massive demonstration events to customers. Focus from finishing the product shifts to making a good demonstration. Google makes a difference here. Unlike its competitors (like Micro$oft), its products actually work and what I've said many times to myself, a good product sells itself.

    I hope those investors (in the article), that are looking for companies to fill up market gaps left by Google, understand it's not the market gap people are willing to buy. People are looking for good products that also might fill up a market gap in the process.
  • by daemonenwind ( 178848 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @05:29AM (#14122998)
    Think of a newspaper. The people who sell ad space and work in Classifieds are secondary to the reporters and editors who manage what stories go into the paper and the general political tone and direction. In fact, those sales people are generally looked down-upon as a necessary evil.

    Think about TV. Who runs things, the people selling air time for commercials or the station manager who chooses what shows appear and what the format is when the network isn't forcing its agenda? Or even at network level, what directs them - people who sell ads or creative people who think their program could be a hit?

    Radio is the same. Google's business model is: Sell non-obtrusive ads associated with information services. To do this, they need compelling services to make people get ads on the same web page. These services are like shows on TV or juicy news articles - they drive eyeballs, which allows for ad revenue.

    Really, there is no other way to run it and make money.
    • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @06:22AM (#14123110)
      Think about TV. Who runs things, the people selling air time for commercials or the station manager who chooses what shows appear and what the format is when the network isn't forcing its agenda? Or even at network level, what directs them - people who sell ads or creative people who think their program could be a hit?

      From what I can tell, this example doesn't apply. The Ad people are the ones who run the company when it comes to TV. The quality of programming continues to decline to pandering for whatever will get the most viewship, becuase more viewers means more eyes at commercial break and higher rates commanded for ads in that timeslot. When a major sponsor of a show doesn't like the political/ethical fork a show's storyline takes, does the network tell the writers to edit the script? Or the sponsor to live with the story or find another show?

      For insight into the correct answers, check out such movies as The Insider [imdb.com] and the currently playing Good Night, and Good Luck [imdb.com].
  • Yeaaah baby !
    (to be read with Austin Powers' voice)

    --
    anonymous engineer
  • by lantastik ( 877247 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @05:31AM (#14123006)
    ...and she doesn't own a computer, let alone have the faintest idea of how to use one. Google is this millennium's Ford Motor Company. Ford started the assembly line and all the other automakers followed suit. Google values what they consider their most valuable assets and reward them well for their efforts.

    Another example; I was explaining Picasa to someone who was looking for a way to easily email photos who wasn't the most computer savvy of all people. She was leery about trying a new piece of software until she found out it's a Google product. She was all for it after that. In a lot of people's minds, Google == Quality. I am not saying it's right, but perception rules the world.
  • They're gonna find out the hard way that I'm not a pussy if they don't start treating us software people better.

    They don't understand. I could come up with a program that could rip that place off big time.
  • by Anyd ( 625939 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @05:36AM (#14123016)
    Google; get laid. All the other google functions seem to work pretty well. C'mon Google, please?
  • sour grapes? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ninjaz ( 1202 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @05:43AM (#14123030)
    Reading between the lines, it sounds like Google has caught onto the standard tactics used by executives in their "Deal Making". That is, making whatever deal that gives them the best kickback, as long as they're supplied with a Powerpoint deck good enough to lend plausible deniability.

    I suspect this is just sour grapes on the part of executives who were called on the carpet for this type of behavior, especially since that the guy interviewed in the article seemed shocked and amazed that he was asked to demonstrate his acumen prior to being hired.

    Having seen my share of "Strategic Initiatives" (code for: we're going to rip out a working system to replace it with a multimillion dollar "solution" barely works, requiring 10x the hardware and manpower to operate, and no, we aren't open to feedback from the technical staff) over the course of my career only convines me further that this is what's going on. Incorporating sanity checks by technical types sounds more to me like removing a caste system (with the suits as Brahmins) rather than creating one.

    And without a caste system, why should the suits be exempt from requirements of competence and integrity?
  • by RoadDogTy ( 921208 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @05:54AM (#14123051)
    As a programmer, obviously I think its cool that engineers & techies who work on the product are valued at the same level (or above) the corporate company structure. I just don't see how this is so different from what has been going on at other tech companies, for instance Microsoft, where people have always been able to choose between moving up the management ladder or move up the food chain as an Independant Contributor. A lot of the Distinguished Engineers and Technical Fellows at Microsoft and specifically in MSR (and I'm sure the same is true of a lot of other companies) are really just engineers with no direct reports, and they are clearly esteemed and thought of as highly as anyone in the company.

    I agree its cool, I'm just not so sold that its a new idea that applies only to Google.
  • business types are second-class citizens

    I've sure when Google was starting out plenty of business types would have tried to put one over them. Must be sweet to be able to return in kind now everyone wants a piece of the action!

  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @06:15AM (#14123094)
    Can we get some of that software mojo where I work? Honestly, I spend less money to completely redesign a 24 inch by 16 inch high speed PC board (and I'm talking something with 3 Gbps digital ECL signals that have to be treated like RF signals, along with a dozen multimillion gate FPGAs in fine grid BGA packages) than our software people do to add a single function or routine. It takes a fucking act of Congress to alter a couple lines of code in this joint.

    Add to that picture all the horribly programmed engineering tools we have to use (and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for), with GUIs that were created by retarded lemurs on acid, and, well, my opinion of the current state of the science of programming is not very healthy. Nice to see someone out there is taking some initiative.

    Seriously, when a Mac head like me favors using your tool via the command line and C shell scripts, you need to *FIRE* whomever it is that designs your GUIs.

    Oh, and X Windows programmers? The text that's highlighted? That's what I expect to be replaced by my typing. It's not meant for the random decoration that you all use it for.

  • by OneSmartFellow ( 716217 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @06:17AM (#14123100)
    Until I became friends with a well known S.V. hardware company Marketing Exec. He was the father of one of my childrens' friends. I spent a lot of time talking about how Scientists and Engineers made his job possible, and how he wouldn't have anytthing to market if it weren't for them.

    Well, he convinced me that it was a two way street. That there is no shortage of good ideas and products out there, and the ONLY reason some succeed over others is becuase people like him and Sales people make it happen. They sell products that they know aren't quite ready yet (vaporware) because the company needs the revenue. They sell products that they know are inferior to the competition because their Scientists and Engineers made a stupid mistake early on in the product development lifecycle that didn't get caught until too late and the company can't afford to start over.

    Basically he convinced me (a seasoned Engineer) that we need them as much as they need us.

    So, be careful in your thinking about this issue.

    • by Crash Culligan ( 227354 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @07:53AM (#14123289) Journal

      [a well known S.V. hardware company Marketing Exec] convinced me that it was a two way street. That there is no shortage of good ideas and products out there, and the ONLY reason some succeed over others is becuase people like him and Sales people make it happen. They sell products that they know aren't quite ready yet (vaporware) because the company needs the revenue. They sell products that they know are inferior to the competition because their Scientists and Engineers made a stupid mistake early on in the product development lifecycle that didn't get caught until too late and the company can't afford to start over.

      Basically he convinced me (a seasoned Engineer) that we need them as much as they need us.

      In other words, a high-ranking Marketing expert managed to convince you (nay, sell you! ) regarding the importance of marketing experts?

      Ladies and gentlemen, suddenly I have an idea how the whole marketers-before-employees meme got started!!

    • Marketing Exec. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Morosoph ( 693565 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @09:47AM (#14123489) Homepage Journal
      Well, he convinced me that it was a two way street. That there is no shortage of good ideas and products out there, and the ONLY reason some succeed over others is becuase people like him and Sales people make it happen. They sell products that they know aren't quite ready yet (vaporware) because the company needs the revenue. They sell products that they know are inferior to the competition because their Scientists and Engineers made a stupid mistake early on in the product development lifecycle that didn't get caught until too late and the company can't afford to start over.
      The thing is that someone is going to sell the goods; the Exec. has simply succeeded in making sure that it's the person with the inferior product. They've made the marketplace less efficient!

      People hate Microsoft for being more of a marketing than a technical company, and it is in part because techies could have better jobs elsewhere producing quality work, if it weren't for the Marketing behemoth.

  • by jsimon12 ( 207119 ) <tzzhc4@yaTIGERhoo.com minus cat> on Sunday November 27, 2005 @06:28AM (#14123120) Homepage
    There have been companies like this in the past. It will change, just give it time. 10 years from now engineers will be treated the same as anywhere else ;)
  • Should be (Score:3, Insightful)

    by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @06:29AM (#14123122)
    "At last a company is shouting at the top of it's voice, engineers make the world."

    Any company that gives too much weight to marketing and accounting types eventually runs things into the ditch of bad products...wrong thing - wrong way.

    This is a leason that has been learned many times over, by many companies. Google is hardly the first to demonstrate the discipline to stick to it.

    Chrysler supposedly learned this lesson the hard way in the 70's & 80's, when bean counters were allowed to decide which models cars and trucks would go to market. The company paid dearly for that mistake, and is only now comng off the ugly results.

    Just remember that the group most capable to 'get it right' (right thing - right way) includes design engineers, usability engineers, mechanical and electrical engineers, as well as project managers, tech writers and testing types.

    Find good ones and give them the tools they need and get out of their way. You'll be a hero without even trying.
  • by Solipson ( 863548 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @06:52AM (#14123175)
    joking aside, the phenomenon can be found in nearly every tech/engineering company in the whole wide world where the founders are engineers, still run the place and the company or industry has high growth rates. The suits only ever come in when growth is slowing down and the products don't sell by itself but need the help of the big, bad BS-marketing machine. Oh, by the way, I used to be a suit myself , with hundreds of engineers working for me, despite me mostly not having a clue what they were doing. It worked pretty well, mostly. The reason: Making business decisions and knowing the financials. Or to turn it around: To not get the suits into the door, get used to love making decisions and get a grasp of accounting. Then happy days. It is not that hard, actually it is bloody easy.
  • joy quote (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DarkClown ( 7673 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @06:56AM (#14123184) Homepage
    I like this bill joy quote from the unix haters handboox [art.net]: "Xerox PARC was a great environment because they had great people, enough money to build real systems, and management that protected them from management."
    This idea of a caste system at google sounds more to me like that, where nurturing development is the primary deal - giving developers a healthy environment and keeping irrelevant crap out of their hair. Seems smart to me. But caste system? I'd imagine that no one wants their benefits coordinator to feel like they aren't doing an important job - the marketing/sales initiative doesn't seem ignored to me, but they're pretty smart about leveraging the nature of the beast to no be too obtrusive about it. Clearly the management over the aren't a bunch of drooling morons, they're doing something right and the product that gets deployed is great....
  • by unitron ( 5733 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @06:59AM (#14123189) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    "But perhaps more compelling to Google is AOL's access to reams of content owned by sister companies such as Time Inc. and cable channel HBO."

    So if Time-Warner sells off AOL, doesn't that mean that AOL won't have any more access to TW-owned content than anybody else?

    Remember when AOL was so overvalued that it could buy TW instead of the other way around? And then Wall Street was going on about how the monopoly on accessing TW content via the web would cause millions to flock to AOL to get their online Elmer Fudd fix? And then that didn't exactly happen and they took AOL out of the parent company name? Maybe they're so desperate to get rid of AOL that they're willing to throw Bugs Bunny and Wolf Blitzer in to sweeten the deal.

  • by FishandChips ( 695645 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @07:02AM (#14123197) Journal
    This article is far from flattering towards Google. In some ways it is so feline that it's hard to work out where Business Week is coming from. It quotes bankers who suggest that "Googlers" are arrogant brats who are more likely to complain about the quality of the Google canteen's omelettes than they are do do hard work and hard deals.

    I guess what one senses here is anger. The business establishment doesn't understand Google, hence this dismissal of anyone who isn't a numbers man as a mere "engineer". And, perhaps, there are a lot of investment houses out there playing a double game. They know what Google is currently where the money is, but they also have a burning desire to get revenge for the way Google humiliated them in its Dutch-auction style of IPO.

    Google is going to have to be very, very careful with this lot. Nothing would please some of these bankers more than to make a few billion out of Google in some crock-of-shit deal before delivering them to the trashcan with "Don't ever cross Wall Street" stencilled on their brow.

    Interestingly, the article doesn't mention Apple which has been a poster child in several eras now. Apple is run by, arguably, one of the world's greatest salesmen, and yet Apple also displays engineering and design excellence that's taken them to the top of the tree. I guess such marriages of engineering and business are possible, though very rare. Google has quite a challenge ahead of it.
  • by Godwin O'Hitler ( 205945 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @07:37AM (#14123266) Journal
    A group of engineers and managers attended a conference, travelling by train. The engineers queued up to buy their travel tickets at the station but only one manager joined them. No questions were asked, but the engineers watched studiously as the manager bought just one ticket.

    In the train, the engineers took their seats as did all of the managers bar two, who took up sentry positions at each end of the coach. After a while, one of the managers on sentry duty made a sign and he all the other managers headed immediately for one of the toilet cubicles. Two minutes later the ticket inspector arrived, saw the toilet door closed, knocked on the door and said "ticket please", upon which one ticket was duly slid under the door.

    The engineers of course understood the ploy immediately and congratulated the managers on their guile and coordination.

    Come the return journey, the engineers sent one of their crew to buy just one ticket. Puzzlingly, the managers didn't buy any tickets at all this time. Again the engineers refrained from asking questions and observed events studiously. Everyone climbed aboard the train and once again the managers immediately posted sentries. Sure enough, in due course, one of the managers on sentry duty made a sign upon which the watching engineers immediately crowded into a toilet. Strangely the managers didn't move. But as soon as the door had closed on the engineers, a passenger sitting nearby observed a manager leaving his seat, walking to the toilet, knocking on the door, and asking "ticket please".
  • by t_allardyce ( 48447 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @07:38AM (#14123268) Journal
    I think its also a good idea if engineers get a taste of business and business people get a taste of engineering. I remember when I was the stuck-up student who believed he was the engineer of all things. I thought that users should bloody well learn to use a system correctly not the other way round. I thought that a properly engineered system was the way to go and that just making a product work so it could be sold was some kind of sin. I swore blindly to upholding standards at all costs and I wasted months trying to plan projects before I started doing anything. Back then I would look down on people because perhaps they used Flash, named a variable 'temp', used the wrong colour wires or used lossy compression in any way. Maybe I was worse than most I don't know, but someone like that doesn't work well in any kind of commercial industry, from arts to engineering, in the real world people want things that work or look good and they want them tomorrow. I only learnt that from experience and I think business people could probably learn a thing or two from the other side of the fence. Both sides are always gunning at each other because they don't understand each others issues and aspirations. Managers are always asking engineers to do something seemingly insane, engineers are always stressing that they need more time and that their system must be perfect or else it will be the end of the world.

    Just to clear things up:
    - Users don't need big colourful buttons to be able to figure out how something works, this does not automatically create an intuitive interface. It does however satisfy specifications and make it look like you care, if that's all that matters to you.

    - Every product on the market, from TV's to computers to cars, have numerous hacks and last minute workarounds in them, they won't be a perfect system and they will have bugs or defects. you're product _will_ be the same.

    - Every market has 3 products: the best, the cheapest, and the one with most value for money. While technically all other competing products are useless and not even worth assembling, that won't stop you being able to flog them to people if yours doesn't happen to fit into one of those 3 categories.

    - There are two types of people: those who work 9-5, satisfy specifications and instructions *technically* and deliver on time, and those who work all the time, ignore specifications and go out of their way to make things actually work properly even if the original plan was flawed (as it usually is).

  • Marketthinking. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @08:18AM (#14123328) Homepage Journal
    Article written by marketoids without understanding of the real value of Google...
    Some bloppers:

    That's not to say Google could afford to go out and do a big deal just for the sake of it. A mega-takeover potentially could wreak havoc on Google. Even Piper Jaffray Co's. (PJC ) 11/18/05 @ 9:05 PM --] Internet analyst Safa Rashtchy, one of Wall Street's biggest Google bulls, says: "If they were to buy AOL or eBay, it would hurt the stock."

    Google buying one of the Evil Giants would certainly hurt the stock, by damaging reputation of Google. People hate AOL and at least mildly dislike eBay. Loss of capital by Google has nothing to do with it. Loss of trust does.

    All the same, the lure of a big deal could prove hard to resist, particularly if Google's strategic position is threatened. For the past two months, Google has been battling Microsoft Corp. (MSFT ) at the bargaining table for a stake in Time Warner Inc.'s (TWX ) AOL unit

    Whoa, Google lost such a deal to Microsoft, such a big battle, such juicy morsel...? No. Google was acting as a shill, for its own interest. Bloat the price of a mostly worthless piece of junk, make the competition offer way more than they would offer initially, and then let them have the rotten carcass for price of luxury dish.
    Losing some battles gives more profit than winning them.

    Young Googlers' preoccupation with these perks tend to drive mature VCs to distraction. "If I hear one more [punk] complain about his omelet, or tell me he's bored with the smoothie selection, I'm gonna, I don't know," splutters one.

    What would YOU prefer to do? Make the job fun and it will be efficient. Not in terms "lines of code per day" but in terms "satisfied customers per day". Still hard to get for some.

    Says the aggrieved VC: "Did it ever occur to them that this was like asking us to do their homework for them? It's the height of arrogance."
    It's lots of VCs who hope to make a lot of money on that. Google just does the usual thing, and is only one. So, usual marketing rule, if the sales outweight demand, sellers must look for ways to attract the customer and the customer may afford demanding much more for the same price. I thought these guys are businessmen? You don't want to do the homework for Google? Someone else will, and they will get the candy, not you, mr Very Senior Partner.

    The suits inside Google don't fare much better than the outside pros. Several current and former insiders say there's a caste system, in which business types are second-class citizens to Google's valued code jockeys.
    As opposed to the caste system where the business types rule the second-class "production crew".

    They argue that it could prove to be a big challenge in the future as Google seeks to maintain its growth. They deem the corporate development team as underpowered in the company, with engineers and product managers tending to carry more clout than salesmen and dealmakers.
    I think they just misunderstand "corporate development". Google took this term right. Marketoids still think it means themselves.

    The candidate, a Wall Street tech M&A specialist who was looking for a change of scenery and a more relaxed lifestyle, calls the experience "chaotic, bureaucratic, and very rigid." Strung out over more than nine months and numerous coast-to-coast flights, the courtship culminated in a jarring "pop quiz."

    Drummond rejects the accusations that Google is anti-businesspeople. He says Google has hired many MBAs and bankers and is constantly assessing its dealmaking strategy.

    Google is just anti-assholepeople. Jerks who hope to get cash from the suckers. And they get punished pretty cruelly for attempts to pick on Google.

    What's more relaxing for the coders crew than to see a super-important suit, a stockmarket shark to jump through loops and sweat heavily just to get a candy they wave in front of his nose? Less bull from your side and deals with Google would become pleas
  • Not big-money deals (Score:5, Interesting)

    by amcguinn ( 549297 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @08:24AM (#14123336) Homepage Journal
    Financiers are disappointed that Google isn't blowing billions on big-name takeovers. The reason is that they want to buy up companies for their technology, and it's cheaper to aquire that early, rather than wait for the target company to make a name for themselves. Paul Graham has summed it up:

    Hence the fourth problem: the acquirers have begun to realize they can buy wholesale. Why should they wait for VCs to make the startups they want more expensive? Most of what the VCs add, acquirers don't want anyway. The acquirers already have brand recognition and HR departments. What they really want is the software and the developers, and that's what the startup is in the early phase: concentrated software and developers.

    Google, typically, seems to have been the first to figure this out. "Bring us your startups early," said Google's speaker at the Startup School. They're quite explicit about it: they like to acquire startups at just the point where they would do a Series A round. (The Series A round is the first round of real VC funding; it usually happens in the first year.) It is a brilliant strategy, and one that other big technology companies will no doubt try to duplicate. Unless they want to have still more of their lunch eaten by Google.

    The result is just as much money for the target company founders (who haven't had their stakes diluted by investors), but none for venture capitalists, and much less for Wall Street. Hence the long faces.
  • by BrightCandle ( 636365 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @08:54AM (#14123396)
    This is funny and confirms some of my original suspicions.

    Previously my company tried to purchase and use a google search engine box. However if you try and buy the google box for your corporate searching needs you will find it impossible to deal with their sales people. They don't offer support, they won't tell you anything. Funnily enough technically if you want to make it work its a doodle.

    Google needs to improve its sales drastically if its honestly going to take over the world, technology just is not enough.
  • by beforewisdom ( 729725 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @10:50AM (#14123650)
    Business Week covers the Google Caste System, 'in which business types are second-class citizens to Google's valued code jockeys [..] They deem the corporate development team as underpowered in the company, with engineers and product managers tending to carry more clout than salesmen and dealmakers.' At last a company is shouting at the top of it's voice, engineers make the world."


    Both extremes are short sighted.

    Microsoft has ossified because engineers, creativity, and innovation don't carry enough clout.

    On the side, Apple is a second rate power in the I.T. world. They could be dominating the I.T. world like Microsoft now does, if not for the poor business decision they made when they got started of pricing their computers above IBM's crappy PCs. Giving more clout to smart business men at that time could have changed things.

    A successful tech company needs to both the businessmen and the engineers sufficently empowered.

    It seems Google has learned its lessons from Microsoft. Lets see if they also learn Apple's. More importantly, lets see if they remember both lessons as they expand and get big.

  • Ego much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daVinci1980 ( 73174 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @12:27PM (#14124012) Homepage
    Engineers don't need more clout than salespeople, anymore than salespeople shouldn't get more clout than engineers. To have a company that really, really shines, you need the best of both.

    The funny thing about mediocre sales people is that they see mediocre engineers, and don't understand what the big deal is. Meanwhile, the mediocre engineer sees the mediocre sales guy, and *also* doesn't understand the big deal.

    Meanwhile, the talented engineers and sales people look at the other side and know that they couldn't do that job nearly as well as the person they are looking at.

    The companies that are currently ridiculously succesful are the ones that recognize that employees are their greatest asset.
  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @12:52PM (#14124143)
    How many companies have lost their strategic edge by placing more emphasis on "business" rather than engineering.

    Intel - the king of silicon - once an engineering powerhouse, is losing its edge in the CPU business - why? By putting marketing ahead of engineering talent, it designed an architecture that would sell well based on GHz ratings. Now, the corporate market (the most profitable market for CPUs) is taking a hard look at opteron. Why? It's a better performing design with less power consumption than Intel's offerings. The day Dell starts selling 2 CPU opteron boxes is the day Intel starts regretting the GHz marketing decision.

    HP - once run by engineers that flew coach instead of by private Lear jet. HP used to be the king of "technology must-haves" from medical equipment, to scientific and engineering tools. HP was the standard in many industries. Thanks to Carly and most of her management staff they decided to exit those niche (but highly profitable) markets for what???? The PC business? God - if that isn't a marketing driven decision, I don't know what is.

    SGI - don't even get me started about this shell of a company. This company had some pretty impressive hardware and 3D rendering products that were way ahead of everyone else in the industry. This was another company that decided selling Windows boxes was the way to go.

    You can always count on non-technical managers to screw up these types of companies. They don't understand the high-end niche technologies, so they focus on stuff they do understand - the commodity garbage you can purchase at Best Buy.

    Let Engineers run tech companies - the money and success will follow.

    -ted
  • Spin (Score:3, Informative)

    by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @12:54PM (#14124155) Journal
    It is interesting that, of all that TFA talks about, the poster decided to spin it towards the supposed Google caste system, which occupies that final 1/5 of the article. The other 80% of the article focuses more on how the hugimongousness of Google has altered the way of doing business in Silicon Valley: the venture capitalists, the MBAs who think they know how to capitalize on a good idea when they see one, the risk-taking technologists and start-ups, the ambitious entrepeneur who just wants to make a shitload of money selling an idea to someone larger, and the fact that Google has yet to shell out serious money to buy out a majoy company like AOL, but seem willing to acquire the long-odds small companies that have sprouted up in their wake. The focus of TFA is how Google's bucking the trend in the world of mergers and acquisition and venture capital, which has in turn ruffled the feathers of more entrenched high-tech business interests.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @01:06PM (#14124213) Homepage
    It's well-known that most major corporate acquisitions are not, in the end, successful. So why do they happen?

    First, it's something for the CEO to do. Really. Acquisitions are something the CEO can actually do. If the CEO has a financial or legal background, acquisitions are something they understand. On the operational side, the CEO of a large company mostly has to just pick people and give them general direction. There are exceptions to this, but they're rare. If you can't fix the company you're running, acquisition gives the illusion you're doing something.

    Second, acquisitions are highly visible events for a CEO. They get you on the cover of Business Week. You can talk to other CEOs about them. You get better golf dates. Improving manufacturing productivity by 15% doesn't do this, even though it might triple profits.

    Third, acquisitions usually result in increased CEO income. The company is bigger now, so the CEO should make more. Right? Don't underestimate this. Also, acquisitions tend to increase stock volatility, and if much of your pay is in options, volatility pays off, even if, on average, the trend is neutral or even down.

    Now, it can actually make sense to acquire a company for its technology or its market share. In the first case, the acquired company is usually small, and you're buying technology, not a customer base or manufacturing capability. A successful example is Google buying Keyhole. Keyhole was small, had good technical assets, and wasn't too expensive. An unsuccessful example is SGI buying Cray. Cray had a large mainframe manufacturing operation and too many people, neither of which SGI needed. (SGI comes to mind because I was in a building yesterday I'd previously visited when SGI owned it. They don't own it any more.)

    Buying market share makes sense if you buy something in the same business. You're reducing competition and can raise prices. You might even get economies of scale. Blockbuster, which bought out many other video store chains, is a successful example.

    On the other hand, buying companies for "diversification" or to "expand into a new business area" usually doesn't work out too well. Buying for vertical integration, where you buy your supplier or customer, used to be popular half a century ago, but is now somewhat out of favor. It made sense to buy a coal mine when you had a steel mill. It make less sense to buy an ISP when you're a phone company.

    I've watched these behaviors for years. See Downside's Deathwatch [downside.com] for the results. (When it says "Chart not available for this symbol, it's not because there's a bug. It's because the company died.)

  • by Tetravus ( 79831 ) on Sunday November 27, 2005 @01:52PM (#14124464) Homepage
    "They deem the corporate development team as underpowered in the company, with engineers and product managers tending to carry more clout than salesmen and dealmakers."

    Well then, maybe that's why none of their products seem to support any common goal (besides being 'cool'). It often seems like Google's left and right hands are completely unaware of each other, and that could be due to teams of gifted engineers all cranking away without ever taking the time to talk to other teams and figure out what the hell the company is doing.

    Engineers are important, but alone they're not sufficient to build a viable company.
  • by alizard ( 107678 ) <alizard.ecis@com> on Sunday November 27, 2005 @06:53PM (#14125569) Homepage
    Looks like the engineering-driven company is coming back.

    Google decided to try invention instead and to maximize value by paying top dollar for inventors rather than treat R&D as a commodity and engineers as something real businessmen buy like cans of beans and that isn't important enough to keep in-house.

    Makes sense in retrospect, if one is in the business of selling technology ideas embodied in the form of tech goods and services, if one wants to maximize the number of ideas under one's control that one can make money from, buy as many as possible of the very rare people who can make these ideas and turn them into real products.

    The companies that hit home runs do this not by following everyone else's "tried and true" strategies, but by doing something different and executing that "different" correctly. As google has done.

    I can understand why the author of the BW piece is offended by the very idea and the ideological committment to the idea that MBAs and marketdroids and buying politicians to protect one's market are the only real source of value at high-tech companies.

    But "google is ineptly managed" and google's market cap suggests that either the author is full of shit or google is. I don't see anyone trying to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in the author of the BW article.

The means-and-ends moralists, or non-doers, always end up on their ends without any means. -- Saul Alinsky

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