More than any other Web company, Google has put together some of the most memorable and sophisticated April Fools’ pranks, ranging from a toilet Internet service provider to a pagerank system based on pigeons.
Since 2000, Google has published one or more gags each year, according to Wikipedia, except for two years — 2001 and 2003. Last year — the peak of the Web 2.0 bubble — included more than a dozen. Google’s YouTube even “Rickrolled” everyone.
Could this year be joke-free? Will the recession, which forced Google (GOOG) to lay off hundreds of employees last week, have another victim?
A Google rep, reached by email, said “We don’t have a comment.” But it would be easy to see why the company might skip the jokes this year — they are very elaborate and must take a lot of time to be produced, approved, etc.
While Google is in better shape than many of its tech peers, it’s not the best of days in Mountain View. The company fired hundreds of employees in sales and marketing last week, admitting that it hasn’t been able to grow as fast as it planned. It’s been shutting down projects right and left, including its newspaper ad program and Dodgeball, a mobile social networking service. And New York-based sales chief Tim Armstrong just quit to become the CEO of AOL (TWX).
Given all the cut staff and projects, it’s probably prudent to bail on jokes produced with company resources.
Google is nothing without its quirkiness, so we wouldn’t be shocked to see one or two April Fools’ gags this year. But we wouldn’t be surprised to see the company take the year off from goofing around, either.