More red flags for Google?

Apparently, I’m not the only one wondering if Google’s future is looking a bit, well, less rosy than the conventional wisdom holds. Last Sunday, my column looked at whether Google was facing its first challenges as search growth slows and other services fail to generate new revenue.

Someone pointed me to this article by Joe Nocera at the New York Times. Nocera examined Google’s change in day care policy as a signed the company’s charmed existence had come to an end:

“In recent months, Google has hit the first rough patch in its short, magical life as a public company. From November to April, Google’s once high-flying stock dropped 44 percent, to $412 from $744. (It has since gained some of that back, closing on Thursday at $537.) It may be a stretch to equate the day care fiasco with the fall in Google’s stock. But maybe not.”

Then this week, Preston Gralla at ComputerWorld weighed in with: “Why Google has lost its mojo — and why you should care.” To wit:

“Google has gone from innovative upstart to fat-and-happy industry leader in what seems like record time. Put simply, the search giant has lost its mojo. That’s good news for Microsoft, and it could affect how you use Google’s cloud computing services.”

Gralla cites Nocera’s article, as well as the drop in stock price, and the departure of a number of Google employees. He cites the blog of Sergey Solyanik, who apparently left Google this summer to return to Microsoft:

“There are many things about Google that are not great, and merit improvement. There are plenty of silly politics, under performance, inefficiencies and ineffectiveness, and things that are plain stupid. I will not write about these things here because they are immaterial. I did not leave because of them. No company has achieved the status of the perfect workplace, and no one ever will. I left because Microsoft turned out to be the right place for me.”

Gralla  followed up with Part 2 after receiving an apology email from Google Apps for all the downtime this month:

“We’re committed to making Google Apps Premier Edition a service on which your organization can depend. During the first half of August, we didn’t do this as well as we should have. We had three outages – on August 6, August 11, and August 15. The August 11 outage was experienced by nearly all Google Apps Premier users while the August 6 and 15 outages were minor and affected a very small number of Google Apps Premier users. As is typical of things associated with Google, these outages were the subject of much public commentary.”

Of course, most folks aren’t buying it. Commenting on Gralla’s story, John Battelle writes:

“I’m not sure that’s true, at least not yet. Perhaps amongst IT managers, that’s true (ComputerWorld being an IT publication, after all), but I am not sure IT managers ever had more than a passing interest in Google’s “mojo” to begin with.

The piece is entirely anecdotal, so the conclusion must be as well. For now, the jury is out.”


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