We consider this to be a silly, undisciplined use of the massive cash flow that’s Google’s search business throws off.
Google shareholders should be outraged.
Investing in alternative energy projects is not a part of Google’s core competency. Google is an Internet company; a software company; a mobile company.
Google is not a utility.
With good reason. The wind business is a pretty lousy business, especially compared to Google’s core business.
With that in mind, we’ve assemble a quick list of better ways for Google to spend the almost $40 million it just decided to throw into the air.
Twilio is one of the hottest startups in the Valley building a cool mobile product that lets developers integrate phone calls and text messaging into apps.
With Google's big push into mobile this seems like a good acqui-hire for the company. It gets a bright group of upstarts, and access to technology that might be integrated into mobile ads on some level. Think click-to-call type stuff.
Sooner or later, Google is going to want to do something in the location space.
SimpleGeo, which provides the infrastructure for other companies to build location-aware services on top of, is the perfect startup for Google. They could build their own network on top of SimpleGeo's platform, make a bid at becoming a standard for third-party location services, or both.
Nothing would make Google happier than to cut into Apple's market share in smart phones.
So why not just get out there and take it by brute force? When eager Apple fans start queuing up for the next generation iPhone, Google could be there waiting for them with free Nexus Ones in hand.
With regulators holding up Google's acquisition of AdMob, the search giant can use all the government good will it can get.
Google's lobbying budget has been increasing at a steady clip over the past few years, but it's still chickenfeed in Google terms. The company spent a mere $1.3 million influencing legislators in the first quarter of this year.
$38 million might be loose change to Google, but in the right hands in our nation's capital, it's real money.
Will selling books be the next big business Google needs to keep growing?
We doubt it. But it's a business Google is getting into, and there's no reason it couldn't generate some revenue for the company.
Google's recent track record for releasing new products isn't so hot. How about throwing an extra $38 million at getting this one right?
Google's been experiencing a serious brain drain for a while now. Why not reverse that trend and buy some of the smartest men in the industry?
Google's Android Market is a mess. That's one place where Apple has a significant advantage over Android. Why not throw a boatload of cash at Eddy Cue, the man that keeps Apple's iTunes on point? Have him sort it out?
Then with some more cash, maybe try to get Chris Cox, the brilliant product man at Facebook, to fix some of Google's weaker offerings.
After signing them up, either hunt down another smart person, or maybe use that money to stem the brain drain.
Google already has an outfit designed to make investments in things like renewable energy sources: Google Ventures.
As the name suggests, Google Ventures makes equity investments in startups, rather than direct investments in power projects. But Google has characterised this as an investment, and said people could think of it as 'a way to diversify our cash holdings.'
If a Google too much cash lying around and wants to diversify by turning it into energy projects, it should be the investment arm that does it, not the search engine company.
We know TV ads are generally anathema to Google, but we believe Apple has done an great job marketing the iPhone on television. Google is a very creative company making very cool ads for its products that it only puts on the web. If it ported some of those spots to TV as it did for the Super Bowl, we think it could expose Google's OS to a broader audience.
Right now Verizon owns the message on Android, and it's an ugly message. Google is not exploiting the full potential of its brand by not advertising.
We're not sure how this one would or could work exactly, but we think Google should approach a Fortune 500 company that uses Office. It should tell the company it will give it $38.8 million if it converts to Google Docs for two years. Google should also secure some sort of right to film their experience with Google Docs.
Then, if the company likes Google Docs, Google has a nice piece of marketing to attack Microsoft. If Google doesn't think Docs is up to such a challenge, then maybe it should spend that money making Docs better.
If none of these options appealed to Google, and if there's absolutely nothing better they could think of to spend the money on, there was still a much more sensible option:
Give the money back to investors. It's their company, after all.