free html hit counter The Times Does the Google Backlash Story - John Battelle's Search Blog

The Times Does the Google Backlash Story

By - August 24, 2005

It’s nearly as predictable as rain in November (at least, in Marin…): the Backlash story. It’s my sense that the Google backlash had its peak strength back in 2004, after Google hired its first 1000 new folks and everyone who did not get hired, or who did not get in on the IPO in some way, or did not see any viable competitors on the horizon, or never got a freaking phone call back from the Adsense group, started grousing about how Google was getting too big for its britches.

Now, Google has serious competition, can’t hire whoever they want, and its founders have learned to say the right things in public about past practices (Sergey, for example, told me he regrets the seemingly haphazard way his company hired in the past few years, and Omid told me he is 100% focused on Adsense service issues).

But this is Gary Rivlin’s story, so he got some interesting folks to talk on the record, including Joe Kraus, Reid Hoffman, and Craig Donato. To wit:

Google, Mr. Hoffman said, has caused “across the board a 25 to 50 percent salary inflation for engineers in Silicon Valley” – or at least those in a position to weigh competing offers. A sought-after computer programmer can now expect to make more than $150,000 a year.


“When I meet with venture capitalists, or if I’m engaged in a conversation about going into partnership with someone, inevitably the question is, ‘Why couldn’t Google do what you’re doing?’ ” said Craig Donato, the founder and chief executive of Oodle, a site for searching online classified listings more quickly.

In any case, the Times piece marks the top of a sine wave of coverage, in my estimation. It’ll get worse from here, then get better again. The cycle of spin….

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8 thoughts on “The Times Does the Google Backlash Story

  1. I’m tired of people dumping on Google just because they need something to do. I’ve sent a letter of the NYT about it. Who knows if they will run it. Looking forward to your book…I’ve preordered it!

  2. PXLated says:

    John, you’ve nailed it. It’s the age old journalist tradition of build-em up, tear-em down. Kind of a sick game they play.

  3. Chris DiBona says:

    Hi John

    I think that the first google backlash article came from Paul Boutin,1367,50264,00.html in wired news in 2002. Anyhow….I guess we’re due for a negative news cycle. I hope that people can see through this kind of thing.

  4. MikeT says:

    I wonder if Google will stop talking to the NYT now that it has published a negative article on them. I love all the folks that defend Google, what exactly do you think you are defending? Innovation? Consumer good (note the lock-in on using GMail to use Google Talk)? Non-evilness? Wake up folks, The Emperor Has No Clothes. Larry and Sergey are no longer heros, they are the advertising industry’s biggest pawns.

  5. Tom Olgin says:

    I agree with MikeT. Google Talk, like MyGoogle, is a “me-too” product from Google, but done poorly. No sizzle, nothing ultra cool, no raising of the bar. While Google came up with a good way of finding stuff on the Internet, their forays into other areas have been less impressive, unless of course you find drag-and-drop maps or 2G of email storage or a yet another sidebar innovative. Good grief.

  6. Fred J says:

    Mike T, thank you for calling a spade a spade!!

    When will the madness end? Yes, Google is an innovative company with some great products. Search, GMail, Maps, Earth. All great stuff that have benefited consumers and made the big Internet guys like Yahoo! and MSN much better companies. Competition is indeed a wonderful thing.

    But John, let’s please be honest about when Google releases a ho-hum product in the market. I follow your blog and generally think your posts are great, but the bias seems pretty clear on your blog and (even worse) in the rest of the press. You give Google lots of attention even when they don’t deserve it — and lot of other innovations from small and big companies get scant mention. Google releases a “Sidebar”. Wow!! Give me a break — MSFT and YHOO have had this for years (in the case of Yahoo!, at least for SBC Yahoo! users). Google releases IM w/ P2P voice. There is absolutely nothing innovative in this product, and yet we’re all supposed to waste time reading posts on it. If MSN or Yahoo! released such a silly product to compete with an existing Google product (for example, an inferior version of Google Earth), they would be skewered by the press and the entire blogosphere.

    Google doesn’t want to be “evil” perhaps, but they do want to be a portal. Now there’s an innovative idea. As far as I’m concerned, the shine sure does seem to be coming off the Google machine. But maybe next month it’ll shine once again when they invent…sliced bread!

  7. Jeremy says:

    its a fair question of a VC to ask about google… I mean they have a huge cash pile, talented staff, and an amazing desire to broaden the product portfolio… What VC wouldn’t ask that question?