As Google enters its first rough patch since going public in 2004, it’s worth thinking through how the folks at the helm will react to the company’s new circumstances.
Since well before the IPO, Sergey, Larry, and Eric have marched to their own drum–with marvellous results. This said, it’s easier to do your own thing when the stock’s going up 5% a month than when it’s 40% off its peak. It’s at times like these that the company’s moon-prize, plans to solve the clean energy crisis, and other founder brainstorms scare the heck out of me.
Now that the rocket ride is over, I think Google needs to get more serious about spending discipline–slowing hiring, focusing on products that succeed (and killing those that don’t–and generally settling in for slower growth and a less airy stock price. I worry, however, that the we-can-do-anything! inspiration of the early years will be a tough habit to break.
I discussed this issue this morning on TechTicker with Kara Swisher, the former WSJ reporter who now anchors All Things D. Her verdict? Larry and Sergey are just wacky, not nuts: