GOOGLE: We Take Back All That ‘Don’t Be Evil’ Stuff — Now It’s All About Us

Larry Page Sergey Brin
Don’t be evil? Nah–we only said that when we were young and idealistic.

[credit provider=”ehud via Flickr” url=””]

My, how things have changed.In light of Google’s recent decision to put its own Google+ social service results above all other results in its search engine, it is amusing to contrast today’s Google with the “don’t be evil” Google of a few years ago.

For example, our Matt Rosoff just highlighted this statement by CEO Larry Page from 2004.

In an interview with Playboy prior to the IPO, Google founder Larry Page was explaining why Google would never put its content above content from elsewhere because that would be “a conflict of interest, analogous to taking money for search results.”

Don’t believe it?  Read for yourself:

PLAYBOY: With the addition of e-mail, Froogle—your new shopping site—and Google news, plus your search engine, will Google become a portal similar to Yahoo, AOL or MSN? Many Internet companies were founded as portals. It was assumed that the more services you provided, the longer people would stay on your website and the more revenue you could generate from advertising and pay services.

PAGE: We built a business on the opposite message. We want you to come to Google and quickly find what you want. Then we’re happy to send you to the other sites. In fact, that’s the point. The portal strategy tries to own all of the information.

PLAYBOY: Portals attempt to create what they call sticky content to keep a user as long as possible.

PAGE: That’s the problem. Most portals show their own content above content elsewhere on the web. We feel that’s a conflict of interest, analogous to taking money for search results. Their search engine doesn’t necessarily provide the best results; it provides the portal’s results. Google conscientiously tries to stay away from that. We want to get you out of Google and to the right place as fast as possible. It’s a very different model.

The irony of Google’s new Microsoft-like attitude (use your monopoly to “link and lever” into other services) is that Google’s new “personal” search results would be vastly improved if they included results from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, et al. But Google seems so intent on promoting Google+ that it seems willing to sacrifice the utility and quality of its personal SERPs to get Google+ off the ground.

As Matt observes, Google’s turning into a portal. And now that they’re halfway there, they might as well own up to it and go the whole way.