Is Google Today’s Microsoft?

I've written about this before, the deja vu of covering Google now, and Microsoft back in the early 90s, when MSFT ruled the (less large but no less self absorbed) IT roost. Paul Graham, one of my favorite occasional Google commentators, notes the sad case of Kiko, a Google…


I’ve written about this before, the deja vu of covering Google now, and Microsoft back in the early 90s, when MSFT ruled the (less large but no less self absorbed) IT roost. Paul Graham, one of my favorite occasional Google commentators, notes the sad case of Kiko, a Google Calendar competitor which seems to have lost its way since Google integrated Gmail with Google Calendar (Kiko is up for sale on eBay – current bid is around 50K, includes free shipping!). Reminds me of all those little app developers who got killed by MSFT back in the day….when MSFT decided a particular app was neat, and needed to be integrated into Office and/or Windows.

What I love about Paul’s conclusions:

There’s another encouraging point here for the new generation of web startups. Failure is not a disaster when you’re very light. The total amount raised by Kiko in its existence would be about six months’ salary for a first-rate developer. There’s a good chance they’ll recover most of it by selling their code. They only had one employee besides themselves. So this is not an expensive, acrimonious flameout like used to happen during the Bubble. They tried hard; they made something good; they just happened to get hit by a stray bullet. Ok, so try again. Y Combinator funded their new idea yesterday.

(thanks to Andre for pointing this out)

7 thoughts on “Is Google Today’s Microsoft?”

  1. From one of the two guys who WORKED on kiko:

    Did Google Calendar kill Kiko?

    No. […] That said they did have an impact on our ability to garner press for our re-launch (see below) but it wasn’t a case of Google coming into the calendar space and crushing us as some people have suggested.

    I know your headline is a lot more exciting, but it seems rather disingenuous given words from the horses mouth, IMHO.

  2. There was an very interesting piece over at the O’Reilly Radar a few days ago regarding a similar topic, with the focus, this time, on Apple. Essentially, the article suggests that it is the role of the little guy developers to constantly innovate – the flip side being that integration (a neutral term) of their ideas into the big OS behemoths is to be expected. The article makes a pretty convincing case for this point of view, too.

    I’d be interested to hear your response.

  3. A very solid post. Network economies seen from a different angle? How large companies or products with great scope can leverage on others’ developments and add ons to scale their reach/impact/effectivness/relevance i.e. greater their impact and profit. The developers of the add-ons challenge is probably to constantly innovate and integrate in their idea a business model: a further issue is that so many innovative developments lack equally innovative business models…

  4. John, I’ve touched on this issue too: is it OK for GOOG to launch businesses and not even bother to monetise them?

    Media is one of those businesses and this not OK because media provides a social service. The reason GOOG can sell advertising cheaper than newspapers is that it dosen’t have to pay for the journalism. My employer at the Financial Times sold advertising to pay my salary. GOOG uses machines to collect news, it proudly states it on Google News.

    What will pay for journalism? GOOG won’t. What will? Media is how society figures out important problems and as a society, we have lots of problems to figure out. We are headed for a period of media disruption at a very bad time.

  5. actually…

    Google directly pays for some of its news.

    And above all the fact that relevant news is listed in aggregators drives traffic to sources like and drives traffic on which they then monetize. And generates further links to the source i.e. more traffic.

    The challenge for media is a) to monetize on their online traffic b) effectively integrate the online and the mobile within their overall business model given that that print sales alone are not growing (i.e. ad revenue is limited), online are and mobile users are and quickly c) produce relevant content (their core strategy) that is effectively made available on and offline d) understand how to leverage on aggregators like Google News (i.e. have an edge strategy)

    In a nutshell the challenge is to provide the social service relevantly, effectively and sustainably, in ways that are coherent with the needs of the service’s benificiaries (readers/users/public)

  6. Forgot to add:

    on the social service value of aggregators: 1) they are also more democratic, as sources are picked up indepenetly of their take on issues; 2)with print media, advertiser $’s influence content far more given limited spaces, while online there is greater space (also meaning more potential perspectives) a) a piece is linked more on its merit or relevance to an issue and b) advertisers are more (obviosuly not exlcusively) keen on numbers, click through rates etc… than on page content.

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