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December 3, 2010

Why Grougle would be a huge mistake for Google

Ok, this is my personal blog, so I can say personal things. This is Martin Tobias speaking.  Ok, I am also the CEO of Tippr with a dog in the Groupon/Livingsocial group buying fight, but this post is showing up here because it is more about my thoughts as a technologist. 

I am a tech nerd.  I know the difference between a bit and a byte.  I know how to code (not well).  I am passionate about product and technology.  While with Microsoft in the early days (1989-1997), the place was full of similar tech nerds with bad hygiene and hyper focus.  In recent years, Google has become the place for the smartest tech nerds to go.  Google is fundamentally an engineering driven company like Microsoft was.  Back in the early days of online services I remember Microsoft trying to get into the content business with MSN (to compete with AOl) and hired a lot of creative hollywood type people.  The culture clash was crazy bad and I believe eventually that is what killed Microsoft as a content company. Engineers just don’t do content. 

Now onto Groupon/Google.  Groupon is run by a guy who’s last job was in a band.  One of their most prized assets is the editorial voice of a talking cat.  This is a consumer brand/entertainment company.  This is not an engineering driven organization.  The culture clash between Google and Groupon is going to be epic.  If it happens I will enjoy watching the destruction from the sidelines. 

As a Google fan and an ardent believer in the engineering driven culture (it is what we have at Tippr), I will be sad if the merger happens.  It would be a giant mis-step for Google and it will fail. 

Posted by Martin at December 3, 2010 9:41 AM

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Comments

I completely agree with you here and will be disappointed in Google if they make this acquisition. With all the chatter about Google becoming like Microsoft, it sure seems that they are taking the right steps. Google is a tech company and Groupon is not. Google provides the services like advertisements to Groupon and that's what they should keep doing. Groupon just doesn't fit with the type of acquisitions Google does.

Posted by: Andrew Choi Author Profile Page at December 3, 2010 10:05 AM

Yeah, Google would have stunted Groupon even if they tried to keep it a separate division as Amazon did with Zappos.

Google has the problem that Microsoft did 10 years ago: it is no longer the first choice of the smartest tech nerds who want to take a job rather than start their own company. Facebook has taken over because their culture allows developers to move fast and break things, while my friends who used to work at Google left because it is no longer the nimble company they joined.

There's a good interview with Paul Bucheit comparing the two companies: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2010/11/facebooks-paul-buchheit-talks-about-facebook-google-and-his-new-gig.html

Like you, most tech nerds are hackers rather than PhDs. PHP, Python and Ruby are a lot more forgiving than C++, so creating a successful local deals business is a lot more about creativity and iterating quickly than perfecting a massive matrix algorithm.

Google's new "Tags" offering for local businesses will probably see the same adoption problem of Google Video, Buzz, etc. Since Google considers local advertising their turf, they will almost certainly do an acquisition to bolster their position.

Maybe Google will try to buy Tippr?

Posted by: Erickennedy Author Profile Page at December 5, 2010 2:01 PM

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