Fred Wilson has some interesting thoughts on Google:
Google is a different company than it was even a year ago. It’s still got the world’s best search engine and I use it maybe a hundred times a day and really can’t think of not using it. It’s like firefox, a fundamental part of my daily web experience, a starting point for most anything and everything. Search for Google is like Windows for Microsoft, it’s the product that pays the bills for everything else and is ubiquitous.
That said, YouTube was the beginning of the end of old Google and the beginning of new Google. I personally love that Google bought YouTube, because I love YouTube and everything it’s about. But that was the line in the sand that Google crossed with the media owners. Google is now public enemy number one with content owners of all kinds. Witness Sam Zell saying that “Google steals newspaper’s content”. That is just not true. But the claim that YouTube (ie Google) steals Viacom’s content rings a bit truer (I also don’t agree with that statement). Google is big, powerful, and rich, but it’s also now in the same shoes as Microsoft was in the 1990s. They are the big powerful company that everyone hates (not me).
Google in some ways strikes me as the new Netscape. Google is infinitely more successful than Netscape ever was, and will probably be around forever, but there’s a certain vibe there that makes it impossible for me to get past the comparison. When Netscape was on the rise, people saw Netscape the same way that people now see Google. They were hiring tons of smart people, they were acquiring all sorts of companies, and they let the products they acquired gather dust and put the engineers on other projects. Business magazines wrote articles about how Netscape was changing the entire business landscape by pushing product out the door at such a blinding rate of speed.
This is not to say that I’m forecasting bad things for Google. Google builds outstanding products and they have a business model that is working extremely well. But we’re finally seeing them slowly transform from a company that everyone admires and envies to a company that lots of people resent. What will be interesting to see is whether Google goes from a company that hires the actual best and brightest to a company that hires people who just regard themselves as the best and the brightest. It’s happened to plenty of other firms in the software business. It’s extremely difficult to keep bringing in top notch hires when you’re growing as fast as Google is.