One of the more obnoxious parts of Silicon Valley culture is that people in the tech industry like to pretend that their companies aren’t in competition with each other.
They like to say that what they do isn’t about making money or winning – that it’s about making the world a better place.
They say that it’s us journalists – and you people, who read us – that make the industry seem cutthroat.
Yesterday, Google CEO Larry Page stood in front of a couple thousand people told a same old lie.
Every story I read about Google is ‘us versus some other company’ or some stupid thing, and I just don’t find that very interesting. We should be building great things that don’t exist. Being negative isn’t how we make progress. Most important things are not zero sum, there is a lot of opportunity out there.
Now, Page is getting smacked around for spouting this claptrap.
Aaron Levie, the CEO of a company called Box, tweeted this:
Google: We don’t think about competition. Unless we like your space, then we’ll try and crush you.
— Aaron Levie (@levie) May 16, 2013
Levie has first-hand experience with the “we’ll try and crush you” side of Google. Box makes a storage-in-the-cloud product, a market Google entered much later.
Marco Arment, an early employee at Tumblr, creator of Instapaper, and widely-read blogger, reacted to Page this way:
Politicians and executives do this all the time. “Arguing about [controversial thing we did], focusing too much on [our weakness], or implementing [regulation that benefits the public but makes us less profitable] isn’t constructive and/or is holding back progress/jobs/children/America.”
Among its many other similarities to ’90s-era Microsoft, Google seems desperate to prove that it’s a major innovator of original product ideas, despite most of its strengths lying in improving, extending, devaluing, and better executing everyone else’s.
Address Page’s line about “building great things that don’t exist,” Gruber writes:
Google fans seem to eat this kumbaya stuff up, to really believe it. But Google is the company that built Android after the iPhone, Google Plus after Facebook, and now a subscription music service after Spotify. They entered the RSS reader market, wiped it out, and are now just walking away from it. Gmail? Webmail but better. Think about even web search: Google search wasn’t something new; it was something better. Way, way, way better, but still…
…Google is a hyper-competitive company, and they repeatedly enter markets that already exist and crush competitors. Nothing wrong with that. That’s how capitalism is supposed to work, and Google’s successes are admirable. But there’s nothing stupid about seeing Google being pitted “versus” other companies. They want everything; their ambition is boundless.