First, the disclosure. I currently own 42 shares of Google stock. I used to have a bunch more I've been selling batches of it at five point intervals since it hit $310 and started falling. The stock has been very good to me, and I just love their story as the last truly great startup company (Firefox is not a company). But I've been liking the company less and less. Little incidents keep happening that make me concerned that their stated intention to do no evil is getting reworked into do just a little bit here and there, and we can get away with it.
Here are five reasons that have made me love the company less, all in the last few months.
- Miserable Blog. I won't name it and I won't link to it, but the Google corporate blog serve no useful purpose other than curing insomnia. It is a selfish thing that only links to sites within Google, that only speaks about how great Google is, that doesn't allow comments and to me, connotes a company that is not interested in listening.
- Banning CNET. Google won't include CNET in interviews, and briefings for one year . It won't answer calls from CNET. CNET's sin was to demonstrate that Google can reveal too much about our personal privacy, it published personal information on Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who apparently the online news service from publishing about about him information that Google provides about the rest of us. Dan Gillmor dismisses the incident as the company's immaturity. This company is a major league player. Eric Schmidt has been a tech industry executive for at least 25 years. Gillmor would have been harsher had Microsoft pulled a heavy-handed play such as this.
- Favoring Advertisers. I could not find a link to this, but a few months back, the company stated that it needed to better serve its advertisers better and would soon start beta testing ads that contained graphics that advertisers thought were effective. This would be no big deal for other companies. But Google invents ads that were quiet enough so as not to offend customers. It was essential to their rise in its almost unprecedented levels of admiration for a tech company. Now that it has that position, and claims it will do no evil, it seems me to be inching in the direction of doing just a tad of it.
- IPO stock price. The stock performance has been so legendary, that we often forget claimed to be set up for the little guy and came out of the gate at $85. This disturbed me for only one reason. They had devised this unique Dutch Auction system supposedly to help the little guy, the individual investors who always get shut out of sexy IPOs. $85 bucks a share is not exactly an easy price for a great many so-called "little guys," who ended up as shut out of this IPO as any.
- Creeping Mediocrity. Is it just me or has everything Google launched since Froogle been tepidly mediocre? Has wealth dulled the creative genius, now that they have they resources to attract so much of it?
Don't get me wrong. The company has an awesome record and has changed how people use computers. Changed it for the better. But their apparent creeping arrogance disturbs me. I fear that the things that made Google a great company are all behind them.
Please say it isn't so, Sergey.