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I Disagree, Google

By - January 24, 2008

Google has come out with a policy around political ads on its sites, and I commend it for transparency and setting a level playing field. But I disagree with the policy. Why? Well, to quote a portion of its post on the policy:

No attacks on an individual’s personal life. Stating disagreement with or campaigning against a candidate for public office, a political party, or public administration is generally permissible. However, political ads must not include accusations or attacks relating to an individual’s personal life, nor can they advocate against a protected group. So, “Crime rates are up under Police Commissioner Gordon” is okay, but “Police Commissioner Gordon had an affair” is not.

I understand why Google took this course, but I have to say, it’s part of an ongoing sanitization of our political life that, in the end, pushes all of politics toward whitewashing and dishonesty. It’s far easier to say “no personal attacks” than it is to say “no false statements”. But in my mind, accuracy is far more important in public debate than some subjective sense of what constitutes a personal attack. These are public figures, after all, and let’s be honest: we vote for folks we feel we can trust. How will we know them if we don’t know the truth? Sure, scandalous stuff is often scurrilous, but the first amendment is clear on speech: all speech, in particular, all public speech, must be allowed, so that the real truth can be assessed by an informed public. We don’t need Google, or anyone else, sanitizing it for us.

Just my two cents.

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MapReduce

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You know PageRank, you should know MapReduce. And as a side note, man, it’s great to see a true geek write the way this fellow does. What a pleasure to read!

GOOG Makes a Comeback

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The support for GOOG came out today, the stock clearly felt oversold yesterday. It closed today at 574, up nearly 5%. A commentor noted on my post from earlier in the week that Google has an unusual program that keeps its options in the clear despite being underwater. Wonder where that charge might show up in the SEC reporting?

Busy, Busy

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I hope to post more this weekend, but I’ve been a bit underwater today and will be again Friday….

The Xooglers

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Stefanie writes up the ex-Googlers. This is just part one…and I found this very interesting (I bolded it):

Like some of his peers, Harik is investing in small companies like Wi-Fi company Meraki, and he’s helping to develop a Web-based video conferencing company called Imo.im with his brother. Harkening back to his college studies of mathematical models of genetic algorithms, he’s also opening a yet-to-be-named research lab in Palo Alto to develop artificial-intelligence software for the fields of biotech and medicine. He plans to invest about $100,000 in the lab this year.

“The largest intelligence system at Google is in AdSense and the Gmail spam system, but I’ve always really wanted to see our work applied to medicine and biology, which is sort of hard to do at a company,” said Harik, adding that the software will be open-source with access to the entire medical community. The nonprofit is partially funded by Google, Harik said.

No, Google Won't Buy the NYT. But Google.Org Could

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I’ve argued in the past that we need new models for quality journalism, and that it’s the responsibility of companies like Google and Yahoo to help our culture get there. One might be to run our best journalistic enterprises as trusts, the way they do in the UK and elsewhere. There’s been a lot of speculation over the years (including a piece in RealClearMarkets yesterday) that Google might buy the Times. I don’t think that’s a good idea. But if Google.org did, and then ran the paper as a trust, well, that’d buy a lot of brand burnish amongst a very important set of influential folks, just as massive privacy and monopoly issues are rearing their heads…

Google Drops More Than 160 Points

By - January 22, 2008

Goog Drops 166

That’s not something we’re used to hearing, but since its peak back in the Fall at nearly 750, Google has dropped to 584 currently, a 166 point drop (it’s dropped more in after hours, all the way down to 568). It’s on a steep decline in the past few days, perhaps due to the new search stats from Nielsen, as well as jitters about the economy at large.

I can only imagine what this is doing to the Google culture. Don’t tell me no one watches the stock there. Anyone who’s joined since September of 2007 – and that’s a lot of folks – now find their options underwater.

The culture is taking its first deep breath. Recall my predictions from a few weeks ago: 2008 will be the year Wall Street gets frustrated with Google. The company has incredible numbers, and will continue to impress, but analysts, tired of bidding up the stock, will start to question the company’s myriad ocean-boiling projects – after all, it’s merely trying to reinvent Health, Energy, Telecom, IT (both consumer apps and OSes), and a few other major portions of the GDP. Look for a few querulous analyst reports and even a few downgrades by the end of the year, as Wall Street finally comes out of its honeymoon stage with Google and demands that the company consolidate its control in marketes where profits are secure: Search and Adsense.

Is this the start of it? It could be. Earnings are coming, and they will be the key to the story. Right now, Wall St. isn’t in love with Google, or any other stock, to be sure. A great quarter – which Google consistently delivers, by the way, could change that.

More Traveling

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On the road today and Weds, seeing clients and such. Posting will be intermittent.

Look, I Was Just Three Weeks Late…Ebay's Whitman to Retire

By - January 21, 2008

Remember my predictions last year? Remember when I said this?:

6. eBay will have a major change in executive leadership. This feels overdue.

Well, I was wrong, it didn’t happen in 2007. But, it is happening three weeks into 2008:

TECHNOLOGY ALERT

from The Wall Street Journal.

Jan. 22, 2008

EBay CEO Meg Whitman is preparing to retire, and John Donahoe, president of eBay’s auction business unit, has emerged as the leading candidate to succeed her.

A decision about her departure could come within weeks, though the situation remains fluid, say people familiar with the matter. It would mean the loss of one of Silicon Valley’s highest-profile CEOs.

I think Meg waited just to spite me. (Kidding, really, I’m kidding…). But honestly, Meg is the longest running Internet CEO on record who was not a founder, and I can only imagine she’s ready for something new. Or maybe, just a few months on the beach.